Saturday, 8 March 2008

Good Times - Bad Times

“Mrs. Jane Jameson, daughter of long-time Royal Preston Hospital patient, Tony Woods, narrowly missed joining her father today when her vehicle burst into flames. Eye witnesses were disappointed that the conflagration failed to engulf the petrol tank. The owner of an adjacent car thanked the fire brigade for cleaning his car.”

Lancashire Evening Post 16 April 2007
In every way, 2007 has been the worst year of my life. It began with every woman’s nightmare – I had a cancer scare in January; a routine test had found ‘abnormal cells’.

In February, I underwent minor surgery. My operation did not go exactly as expected … I collapsed in the corridor on the day of my discharge having had to stay the night. I suffered from phlebitis (inflammation of the veins) triggered by the anaesthetic.

In late February, my father of 86, fell and broke his hip. He was admitted to the Royal Preston Hospital where he underwent surgery for hip replacement.

Whilst in hospital, my father contracted Clostridium Difficile. The family rallied round and we established a weekly schedule of visiting times.

It was during one of my visits that my beloved Vauxhall Vectra caught fire in the visitors car park adjacent to the Accident and Emergency Department. At first, the ignition would not turn off. I rang my partner for advice and whilst on my mobile, black smoke started to engulf the front of my car. He told me to ring the fire brigade but by that time, the smoke had triggered the hospital fire alarms and help had been summoned.

My car was a write-off and was towed away unceremoniously. Inside the hospital there was a fevered excitement – for safety, the A & E Department had been evacuated.

Upstairs, on my father’s ward, the excitement continued and the story had grown – according to many ‘witnesses’, my humble Vauxhall was now the flagship of the BMW range … why does that happen ?

The treatment and care that my father received was far from what anyone would have expected. It is odd to notice the same telltale signs of rigid adherence to policies / procedures that resulted in little awareness of the needs of the patient. None of the doctors seemed to have a ‘full-picture’ of his treatment, condition or prognosis … worse, there were no signs that they cared.

Following a lengthy meeting with PALS (Patient Advice & Liaison Service), the quality of the nursing care improved dramatically.

Sadly, my father died on 29 May 2007.