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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

NHS hospitals are suffering from a deterioration in the level of compassion shown to patients by clinical staff, a health thinktank has warned.

NHS hospitals 'suffering from lack of compassion'
article in the Telegraph


"Niall Dickson, chief executive of the King's Fund, blamed work pressures, shorter stays in hospital and the greater complexity of medical challenges for staff behaving in a less "feeling" way.

He said that compassion should be a key priority for the boards of every NHS hospital."

"Mr Dickson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I have very little doubt that we've seen a deterioration in the level of compassion that is shown by staff to patients.

"The board of every hospital should be looking at this as one of their top priorities - what is it like for someone who's coming in to be treated, and how can we improve that experience?"

He added: "It's to do with staff facing very difficult situations - because patients are sicker and hospital stays are shorter - rather than them all turning into nasty people.

"If we can't get compassion into our healthcare, the system is failing. It's as fundamental as that.""

I certainly agree that there's a lack of compassion in hospitals. I was in hospital last year for 29 nights. I went in with a complicated fracture of the right humerus. My right hand was working OK and there was no pain from the fracture when I fell and broke the arm and rang for an ambulance, and no pain from the fracture when the ambulance men took me into the Northern General Hospital A and E department. The pain started when the splint (backslab) was put on the arm. This was because of the pressure and weight of the splint.

I explained to 'everyone' - doctors, nurses, etc - that I am a steroid victim and that therefore my skin and veins are very thin-walled and very delicate and painful, and that pressure is very damaging and painful to them and that the splint was causing me extreme pain and I needed to have the operation (fixing the pieces of broken bone together) done as soon as possible. - I'd been admitted to the hospital early on a Thursday morning. I was told the operation would be done on the following day, the Friday, the Saturday, the Sunday or - at the very latest - the Monday. - It was not done on any of these days. - In fact, it was almost a fortnight before the operation was done! - while I had had to endure increasing agony because of this awful wait. I was told that the delay was caused because emergencies had to be dealt with before me. - I believe my plight was an emergency. - Because of that excessive delay, serious, extremely painful and permanent damage was done to my right (dominant) hand. For months I was unable to move it at all. Ever since leaving the hospital I have had to have carers every day.

During the wait my hand became a mass of pins and needles and it swelled up really alarmingly - a large blue domed mound appeared on the back of my hand. It was so immensely swollen the pain was exquisite. The skin was extremely thin and overstretched and vulnerable and the veins too. In this highly vulnerable, oedematous state one morning a staff nurse who was to help me to get washed grabbed hold of the hand to pull it - into the sling, if I remember correctly. - GRABBED HOLD OF IT! - I screamed! - How could anyone do that? - How could anyone not realise the terrible agony and harm done by putting extra pressure on a delicate hand already so overstretched? - How could a staff nurse be so stupid/cruel as to do that?

He then started telling me off! - I believe this was for the benefit of anyone within earshot of the scream, to make it appear that he had not just caused me intense extra pain. - We were behind screens for privacy since I was getting washed, so no-one had seen his stupid action.

He should have given me time to ease my hand into the sling; the other nurses did. It was a difficult manoeuvre to accomplish. But he was still impatient and now tried again to save time BY GRABBING THE OTHER END OF MY ARM - THAT IS, THE UPPER ARM CONTAINING THE BROKEN BITS OF BONE - AND PUSHED FROM THAT SIDE TO GET MY ARM INTO THE SLING! - THE BITS OF BONE GROUND TOGETHER OF COURSE AND I INVOLUNTARILY SCREAMED AGAIN.

He went away in a temper after telling me off again and I was left for about 40 minutes, in great distress, with no clothes on though partly covered by a towel or something, having all the time with my delicate left hand to support the broken right arm in its heavy splint, unable to change position at all, unable to summon assistance by ringing the bell because the vulnerable badly broken arm was not supported by the sling and could not support itself, of course, because the bone was in bits... - He clearly had not told anyone of my plight so that I could be 'rescued'. It was just by chance that a nurse came into the ward and put her head round the screens to see why they were round my bed and was then able to help me.

That man should not be a nurse.

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