The Wellington Hospital
St Johns Wood
Dear Sir or Madam
Re: BUPA Patient – Room 112.
I have just returned home from an operation on my left knee on the 29th of November 2011, having stayed over night at the Wellington Hospital South. I want to complain at the level of care I received during my entire stay.
I walked in to reception for a knee operation and was told to take a seat: there were none available; every single one was taken by families of at least 3 people for every actual patient, none of them British, none of them with manners, so despite waiting to be taken into my room for a knee operation I was forced to stand. Not exactly a wonderful start to a stay at a famous hospital! Whilst waiting to be seen by the admissions staff I was horrified to witness one of the Middle Eastern families using a 1 year old as a punch bag; not one of staff said or did anything. Had this thug hit a fully grown man that hard he would have been charged with ABH but a baby can’t defend itself and as none of the hospital staff did anything, the baby was on its own. I tried to call the police myself but I couldn’t get mobile phone reception. If you have security cameras in the reception then please look for yourself from 12.03pm on 29/11/2011.
One of the admission staff eventually came to see me and informed me that authorisation had not been received from BUPA. Fortunately I had a copy of the authorisation (which HAD been sent to the Wellington) on my phone. As I heard another patient being given the same message I strongly suspect the problem does not lie with the insurance companies but with the admin team at the Wellington. To put it bluntly, when I can find information more quickly than someone who deals with it every day I think you have a problem.
When I did finally get to the room, (which judging by the other rooms I saw was the smallest in the hospital – are BUPA patients deliberately treated differently to the rest?) I did not see a member of the nursing team or the catering staff for 2.5 hours – why was I told to arrive at 12? As for the state of the room itself, I was horrified to realise people could see in to it from the street: clearly enough that it would have been inadvisable to move around without a robe – and this was in daylight, no electric lights on in the room. Not only this but the room wasn’t even clean; there was dirt on the windows and all over the bathroom floor. The TV channels didn’t work; less than half of the channels on the list in my room were actually available. As it became dark it became apparent that the curtains didn’t work either. As they were the only cover for the gaping hole in the window itself this was more than just a nuisance. Eventually an “engineer” arrived to deal with the TV but, of course, there was nothing he could do. It was interesting that despite me asking to add a couple of English speaking channels he was not able to do this but he was able to add still more Middle Eastern channels to the already numerous ones on the system whilst removing the few English speaking ones there were already. Would it be fair to say that its not only BUPA patients that are persona non grata, that European patients aren’t too welcome either? I had someone come to look at the curtains and he confirmed that they were broken and reported that they were broken to whoever it was he needed to report to end of story – and end of any hope of stopping the wind whistling into my room all night. Surely a hospital should have proper maintenance staff to deal with issues immediately? When I asked to change room (before my operation) I was told I couldn’t irrespective of the numerous problems with the one I had been assigned. And it was terrible, it shouldn’t have been allocated to anyone in that condition, not even a BUPA patient, however unpopular we may be. I was informed that due to major work being carried out on the other side of the hospital there was nowhere to move me to. It transpired that the work was being carried out on my side of the hospital, that this excuse was simply a lie. In fact the work was going on right next to me; so close in fact that I kept thinking someone was knocking on the door. It was either on the room underneath me or outside my window. My parents noticed how few patients were actually on the 1st floor from the information at the nurse’s station so I have absolutely no doubt that there were lots of rooms I could have been moved to. If you encourage your staff to mislead patients please ensure that their lies cannot be disproved so easily! I prefer not to be lied to at all and I definitely prefer not to be lied to by medical professionals.
After this you would think it couldn’t get much worse, but it kept going, I had my operation, much later than I was advised it would be. As I was the surgeon’s only patient that day I find it hard to understand why. I had been nil by mouth since 8am by the time I got back to my room at 7pm I was very hungry indeed. There was no food or drink waiting for me despite being told to order something for after the operation. My poor wife had to chase the kitchen staff who delivered not only the post operative snack but a hot dinner at the same time. The room was beginning to look like a restaurant. My wife tried to get dinner kept hot but apparently this was impossible. The detritus of the meal was left all night. For someone recovering from an operation this was quite disgusting. I am amazed that the Wellington has a policy of only clearing meals when replacing it with another; in my case, with breakfast. I would also like to point out that the food choice was poor and the actual food not much better. The chicken I had was so dry it was virtually inedible.
On the subject of breakfast, I asked for a second cup of tea. Despite asking 3 times it never appeared. Is this something that is particularly difficult? I can’t be the only person who enjoys more than one cup of tea with breakfast.
With regard to my knee operation I was told I would need to have ice applied immediately after the procedure, once I had returned to my room. Despite asking for this on several occasions no ice appeared until minutes before I was due to be discharged. Is this simply inefficiency? It can’t be due to the nursing staff being too busy (which is not an acceptable excuse at any time) as there were so few patients under their care. If a surgeon requires the nursing staff to provide certain treatment is it acceptable for Wellington nursing staff to overrule the doctor as clearly happened in this case? I can see no other reason for not being given the ice required as part of the treatment for my knee.
At about 9.30pm I rang the buzzer for the nurse because my arm was pouring with blood and it was worrying me. It was almost an hour later before anyone finally came in. To add insult to injury the nurse then proceeded to reprimand me for moving – as if I had a choice as I was being ignored. I had no option but to get up and try to find someone even though my knee had only just been operated on.
Sleep was clearly not an option. Wind coming in through the broken window along with the light pouring in through the broken curtains that wouldn’t close coupled with the never ending insane beeping of other patients’ equipment and the drunks going past the hospital ensured that I couldn’t possibly sleep. My lights were rattling so much with the wind rushing over them I’m surprised that it didn’t keep the rest of the patients up. At 3am the nursing staff began hourly visits for observations. At 4am, 5am and 6am I was awoken by the lights going on. The fact that the lights were left on once these jobs were completed is completely beyond comprehension. I have always believed that nurses were supposed to help patients get better, not to stop them sleeping. Whenever I have been in hospital in the past, nurses have come into my room using low light to avoid disturbing patients. Why do the Wellington staff have to cause maximum disruption?
Having had similar surgery on my other knee a few years ago I was very anxious to find out what had happened in my operation. It took approximately 18 hours to do so. I suppose this is probably not as unreasonable as it feels given the rest of the treatment I received in the Wellington. However, as I began asking for information as soon as I came out of the anaesthetic I do not find it an acceptable time period. Having said that, I did eventually get the information, which is not the case with anything else I requested while in the Wellington. .
I eventually left without any kind of discharge. In fact, I still had a cannula in my hand when I left the hospital. No-one had the slightest interest in anything to do with me. I confess that by this point I simply wanted to get home; to end this nightmare by getting away from the Wellington. At home I would be cared for. I was not going to hang around until someone thought to remove a cannula. I would be there still if I had.
I have unfortunately had several operations over the years thanks to the amount of sport I usually play. Most of my treatment has been in private hospitals but some emergency treatment has been under the NHS. I can honestly say that my experience at the Wellington was far worse than at any other hospital I have been in. And yet I would guess it will prove to be by far the most expensive. I certainly would not recommend in patient treatment at the Wellington and I feel the responsibility to share my experience to others who may be about to make the same mistake.
I feel so strongly that I have asked my insurance company to refuse to pay for the room, food and nursing charges because we did not get what we are being charged for. The operation itself seems to have gone well but the care was disastrous.
I must stress that everyone I did come across was very nice, nobody was nasty in any way. I felt incredibly aggrieved that I was not able to change room despite so many problems with room 112, which were regularly pointed out to the nurses. The operation seemed to have gone well and when I did finally find out what exactly had been done to my knee and how it looked in there it was very reassuring. I felt a lot better with this knowledge having experienced the same operation on my other knee a few years ago.
I look forward to receiving your comments on my treatment. Perhaps I should have stressed the fact that my wife is Persian?