Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Nothing to do with us, Guv!

A great-grandmother was left in soiled bed sheets for 12 hours as nurses chatted outside her room in a multi-million pound NHS hospital, according to The Daily Mail.

Ruby Hamilton, 75, had been admitted to the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston, Birmingham, with heart failure five weeks ago but was forced to sleep in urine and vomit-covered sheets despite repeatedly buzzing the nurses for help.

Ruby's horrified daughter Christine, 48, said: 'I was so shocked a patient could be left in such an appalling state. 'My mother had been lying in her own filth overnight. It was so bad her sheets were drenched with urine. She was very distressed and humiliated but the nurses didn't seem to care. They just stood outside her room gossiping while my mother suffered.'

Ruby's family are now so concerned about her being left in squalor again they are taking it in turns to sleep in a chair next to her. She is expected to be discharged later this week when she will return home to Birmingham where she lives with her husband Hurbert, 85.

The new 1,213-bed Queen Elizabeth Hospital opened in June and was hailed as one of the most modern facilities in the world. Hospital bosses yesterday apologised to Ruby and her family.

Kay Fawcett, chief nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: 'The hospital is concerned about the question of care delivered to patients at all stages of their illness. I am satisfied that the patient was not left for a long period of time in a wet bed and, as soon as the nurses were alerted, they took immediate steps to address the situation and to unreservedly apologise to the patient and the relatives.'

So, it sounds as though the hospital is saying Ruby's family made it all up and that the poor old lady wasn't left soaked in her own urine, vomit and faeces? Nothing to see here... move along!


  1. "A great-grandmother was left in soiled bed sheets for 12 hours as nurses chatted outside her room in a multi-million pound NHS hospital, according to The Daily Mail."

    I'd ask three questions:

    1. Were the nurses chatting outside her room for 12 solid hours?

    2. When did the Daily Mail ever let research and investigative journalism ever get in the way of a good rant?

    3. Why do positive NHS stories never make the newspapers or get featured on your blog?

    Here's to the doctor who calmly removed the piece of plastic I nearly choked to death on as a child. Here's to the nurses who looked after my grandmother as if she were a member of their own family when she was in the terminal stages of her illness. Here's to the ambulance crew who arrived swiftly and acted decisively when my friend collapsed two years ago. Here's to everyone working a hard job for often fairly pitiful money in difficult circumstances who never get the recognition but are first in line when the mud gets slung.

    There's two sides to every story. Your blog started out as an amusing overview of hospital food. It's long since turned into a one-sided and spiteful rant.

  2. I have to agree that good stories never reach headlines like the bad, but many NHS workers like myself take pride on the work we try to deliver in such pressured circumstanses. I love and care for each patient as if they were my own mother or father.
    i worked myself with the named patient andunderstand if my mother had been left in that position i would go crazy, i understand that this family are furious but only hope that the few nurses that really did care for Ruby on their shift are recognized as not being the same as nurses who constntly ignore buzzers or calls of help.
    could this new hospital be far to big to deal with every patients needs with the staff being given?? definatley not and yet they will make further cuts!!
    i worry for our elder generation.
    Annon Staff Nurse

  3. Neil... I nearly died at the hands of the NHS. I was left to rot on a ward and ended up with septicaemia. I spent six months in hospital and I witnessed awful standards of care. I have spent the past six months researching and investigating NHS care for a forthcoming tv documentary. Some of the things I've unearthed are appalling. Yes, there are good people in the NHS but there's far too much neglect. You'll excuse my spiteful rant of a blog, but I'll carry on doing what I'm doing until elderly people are treated with dignity. My wife was nearly widowed and my two daughters left without a father, so forgive me for trying to draw attention to the shortcomings of our health service.

  4. To Anonymous staff nurse... I'd like to thank you for the work nurses like you do. Your account of caring for Ruby really touched me and I want to thank you for posting. I know there are some unbelievably good staff working in the NHS. I experienced some good care too. My gripe is with the sloppy and overpaid managers who appear to be hellbent on destroying the NHS while lining their own pockets. Thank you for being there and for caring so much for all the patients in your care.

  5. I dont think your blog is spiteful - on the contrary it is aimed at improving patient care and that can only be a good and healthy thing. I have been on both sides of the service, as both a patient and a nurse. I was lucky to be a nurse in the late 70s when there were adequate staffing levels and good old ward sisters and matrons who were both respected and feared. We also did not have to fill in countless unnecessary forms which is tiring and tedious for both the health care professional and the patient. The health service has lost touch with its main objective of providing care for ill people. I respect all caring people in the service but, like all professions, there are some bad eggs. Bring back the correct heirarchy on the wards and they will weed out the bad uncaring staff. Thanks you Traction Man for doing this blog and giving me a chance to vent - long may you continue.

  6. Thanks, Grumpyoldwoman. I don't feel spiteful towards the NHS but I'm really, really angry at some of the staff and management. It only takes one member of staff with a bad attitude to do a lot of damage to a patient. Being a nurse or a doctor is one of the most important jobs anyone can do and is often a matter of life or death. A little bit more seriousness and a better sense of responsibility by some could make a huge difference

  7. Dear Neil Fulwood,

    If you don't like the blog, there's plenty of others out there to choose from!

    Keep up the good work XTM!

  8. I felt I should repeat Bonnie’s comment from the 7th in case it was meant for this particular blog:
    XTM, please keep up your awareness campaign. What is the point of developing amazing new technologies and having wonderful buildings and drugs if you end up dying from malnutrition, starvation and wasting in a bed full of urine and faeces...
    It should always be a [nurse’s] priority to ensure your patients are fed, watered, and CARED for...if you don't want to do these basic things, don't be a nurse! there are plenty of other jobs you can do! [7th Dec 2010.]

    The sadness is that a graduate nurse won’t expect to do these things.

    I can still remember the humiliation of using a committee-designed cost-effective disposable pot after having had a catheter removed. Such relief – but it was too small. The cardiac nurse was so angry that he failed to notice another patient’s bottle which had been left uncollected on the floor for hours…

  9. Traction Man – thanks for your even-handed response to my comment. I have no issue with the fact that your blog is motivated by your personal experiences and indeed I applaud you for conducting your own investigations into the state of the NHS. However, there’s a difference between recording your own observations or evidence that you have gathered and ratified, and simply quoting a story printed in a scandal-mongering rag.

    Anonymous – first of all, congratulations for addressing me by my full name and then signing yourself anonymous; it speaks volumes about personal integrity and the courage of your convictions. Secondly, the comment “If you don't like the blog, there's plenty of others out there to choose from” is fatuous. There is no governing rule to say that the comments section of a blog exists solely for kudos, congratulations and mutual back-slapping. To exhort Traction Man to “keep up the good work” while advising me to go elsewhere seems like a tacit acknowledgement that you only want to hear bad things about the health service and not be reminded – as per my personal experiences – that sometimes they get it right. In fact, most of the time they get it right. It’s just nobody seems to blog their experiences or discuss their stories with the media in those instances. And why should they? Positivity never made the headlines. Ultimately, we have a health service that is free at the point of delivery. A health service that swiftly and unfussily saved my life when I was a child, calmly and professionally tended to my father after an industrial accident, and alleviated my grandmother’s suffering during her final stages. Are you really suggesting, Anonymous, that I keep these success stories under my hat and go visit another blog just because it doesn’t fit in with your world view?

  10. Well said, Neil.

  11. Indeed, well said Neil!

  12. It's all very well for NHS workers to post on here defensively, but the truth is there are some staggeringly shocking cases of neglect in the NHS and they deserve to be highlighted. My research has left me in no doubt that there are serious issues in the NHS surrounding care and nutrition. You'll be able to judge for yourself in February when the work I've been doing will be shown on Channel 4. I'll post again to let you know the time and date. AS for Neil and UKNurse, you can carry on criticising what I'm saying, but it won't stop me reporting on the shortcomings of the NHS. I well aware of the good the NHS can do but reporting on all the good things will do nothing to address the shortcomings.

  13. also are people ****ing dumb? the nhs is not free you pay for it with your NI jackarses