Friday, February 29, 2008


Lord Mancroft has stirred up controversy by criticising nurses in a West Country hospital:

He told peers: "The nurses that looked after me were mostly grubby. We're talking about dirty fingernails, slipshod, lazy.

"It's a miracle I'm still alive. But worst of all my Lords they were drunken and promiscuous.

"How do I know that? Because if you're a patient and you're lying in a bed, and you're being nursed from either side, they talk across you as if you're not there.
(Mr E has a slightly different take on this).

I don't find Mancroft's comments surprising. And if someone had reported this about a private company:
"I can only tell you that it is a miracle that I am still alive. The wards were filthy. Underneath the bed where I was, there lay a piece of dirty cotton wool and it remained there for several days. The ward was never cleaned.

"It was a gastroenterology ward with lots people with very unpleasant infectious diseases. Neither the ward, nor the tables, nor the beds, nor the bathrooms were cleaned.

"I was extremely infectious at that time but they took no precautions with me at all. They were furious when my wife wanted my bed cleaned when it clearly needed cleaning."
what would have been the reaction?

The National Health Service has a long tradition of treating patients with contempt, or ignoring them entirely and chatting as though they weren't there, as Mancroft reports. My earliest memory of the NHS is from 1967, when I was seven years old and had been rushed, late at night, in an ambulance from a small district hospital (which was excellent) to a large one for an emergency operation after the site of a hernia repair burst open. I came round in a children's ward in the small hours, listening to nurses chatting nearby. They were competing to see who had seen a child die for the most trivial reason while in their care.

"I had one die from a cold!" - followed by laughter.

The most recent time I stayed in hospital overnight, in Addenbrookes in Cambridge about seven years ago, a stream of patients from the ward, including me, went to the nurses' station to ask them to help a very distressed and confused elderly woman who was writhing on her bed in the mixed ward, nightdress up around her neck, soaked in her own urine. They refused - they were having a meeting.


Anonymous said...

I went to Phospital. Have you been in Addenbrookes in the last six months? Yes. So they put me in isolation.

Anonymous said...

Listening to the news report on this, this evening a spokesperson said she was 'very hurt' by Lord Mancroft's remarks, and that he should have taken any issues or problems up with the Trust at the time.

Trust is not a word I'd bandy about when it comes to hospital care.

Recently visiting a friend the ward was filthy, the bed had someone else's dried blood on it, the food was awful (she lost a stone during her relatively short stay) and when a drain fitted to her leaked pus and blood over the bedlinen it wasn't changed until the following day. Nurses didn't issue pain relief as prescribed and when asked if it was possible to get some help with a woman who was having trouble breathing, were rude and abrupt, not to mention dismissive.

We then spent some time listening to a raucous conversation about a recent night out they'd all had.

Another elderly friend was sent home from the same hospital after a routine op, with C dif and not told what it was she had (despite the fact the hospital knew) until she was readmitted as an emergency, horribly dehydrated and on the edge of kidney failure.

I'm really hoping I don't need to go...