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Grieving family hits out over mum's care at Morriston's Hospital

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

Ethel Stewart

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A LEAKING roof, syringes on the floor, machines not connected properly and inattentive nurses were some of the problems encountered by a terminally ill mum, her son claimed.

Ethel Stewart, 75, former postmistress in Ynysforgan and mum of Swansea Council cabinet member for finance, Rob Stewart, died at home on September 9 after a brief illness, during which she was treated at Morriston Hospital.

However, her family said they were upset by the treatment she received, and believed patients were not being "given the care they deserved".

Rob Stewart said: "My overall opinion of the ward was that there was very little care. I believe it could be considered neglect. I would not ever want to be a patient in that environment."

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABM) has reiterated an apology for the areas of Mrs Stewart's care where they did not meet expected standards.

But Mr Stewart, who has submitted a formal complaint, said he wanted to speak out in case other families were in a similar situation and felt they could not.

Mrs Stewart went into Morriston Hospital in August after suffering pains.

"She had a suspected kidney infection," Mr Stewart said. "She spent two days in a clinical decision unit on a trolley without a bed.

"She was in severe pain. She was told she had kidney stones, given antibiotics and discharged.

"Around a week and a half later she was taken back into Morriston Hospital. Further scans identified her as having terminal cancer which had spread from her lung to her liver.

"She was given a prognosis of having a short period of time to live.

"She was terminally ill, and in a ward that was leaking and damp. There were nets down on the floor (for the leaking roof).

"We were told Mum needed an air mattress — it took a week (to come) and this caused sores on my mum's ankles to become ulcerated.

"Prior to that we found syringes under the bed, one was full, one was empty.

"She was also on a glucose drip because she was diabetic. It wasn't connected properly and the contents had got on to the floor.

"And when the machines stop working they start to beep. It became a real bugbear for my mum, especially during the night.

"On one occasion we counted it beeped for 22 minutes."

He said he complained to the hospital and the head of nursing did offer an apology, but he still wanted to speak out.

However, Mr Stewart added: "The palliative care nurses from Spice (Swansea Palliative Intermediate Care Team) and the GP surgery staff were absolutely fantastic. It seemed to me to be assessment and treatment, not care."

The councillor also said he felt staff were insensitive when his family were told to pick one person to call the ward, "because nurses did not have time to answer calls".

Mr Stewart said he had submitted a formal complaint, but two months on had only received a holding response.

A spokeswoman for ABM said: "Once again, we would like to extend our apologies for the areas of Mrs Stewart's care where we did not meet our expected standards.

"The quality of care we deliver to our patients is extremely important to us and is of the highest priority.

"We can give our assurances, the concerns raised by Mr Stewart while his mother was in our care, were addressed at the time, and processes put in place which continue today on the ward.

"During Mrs Stewart's time on the ward, the head of nursing met with the patient's family to discuss their concerns and explain the steps being taken.

"Direct contact numbers for both the ward sister and head of nursing were also provided should the family have any further concerns; none were received.

"Full details of the steps taken and processes put in place to further improve quality of care on the ward will be included in the written response to Mr Stewart's recent letter of complaint."

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  • ABM_Health  |  November 19 2012, 2:20PM

    Providing high quality care is top priority for ABMU – but we know we don't always get it right, and we apologise when the service provided is not as good as it should be. Last year we carried out 900 operations and saw 12,000 outpatients each week. (46,000 operations in 2011-12 and 625,000 outpatients) In addition, Morriston Hospital's A&E Department is one of the busiest in Wales, seeing an average of 230 patients each day, and sometimes over 300. In 2011-2012 ABMU received just under1,400 complaints from patients or members of the public. Of course we would like that figure to be much lower; but it represents a small proportion of the total number of patients who received care from us. We also received thousands of letters and cards of thanks, and these are often pinned up in wards. Morriston Hospital provides a great deal of specialist/tertiary care. For example, it is home to the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery and not only provides specialist care to all of South Wales, but the South West of England. It was awarded that status after a rigorous UK-wide audit. It also has the bariatric service for Wales, and the Wales Cleft Lip and Palate Service. You may be interested to know that the UK Trauma Audit Research Network (TARN) figures show that if you are badly injured and go to Morriston Hospital you are more likely than average to survive. (An extra 1.7 lives saved per 100 than expected). Also, the UK cardiac survival rates for Morriston Hospital's Cardiac Centre is higher than expected (source: Care Quality Commission). So while we don't always get it right, there is independent evidence to show that there is also much high quality care provided.

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  • SWEPuser001  |  November 16 2012, 3:34PM

    '"Nurses are university graduates & floors are dirty so syringes are left there for cleaners."' Is that supposed to mean something???????

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  • siarad2  |  November 16 2012, 1:35PM

    Nurses are university graduates & floors are dirty so syringes are left there for cleaners.

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  • clarysage50  |  November 16 2012, 12:39PM

    ''I would just like to say that not all patients are treated the same as I have nothing but praise to the staff who treated my mother in law both in Morriston and Gorseinon Hospitals." This is the problem.....ALL patients SHOULD be treated the same - with utmost care, compassion and dignity!

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  • SWEPuser001  |  November 16 2012, 12:01PM

    Tell you what! I'm in my 70's and I've told my wife that I'd rather DIE ON THE PAVEMENT than go into hospital. If I have, say, a heart attack or whatever, leave me to die: I have absolutely no desire to be 'in the care of' people who don't really give a t**s whether I live or die. I know too many people who haven't survived the experience. Sadly, because of my age, I know people who have received 'less than adequate' care from the so-called 'health service.' One, as an example, frail, in her eighties, who somehow fell out of bed, and susequently died from the broken hip she sustained. Nice person: I liked her. So: not for me. Personally I would rather take my own life while I still can! And I definitely don't intend to end up in some 'care home!!'.

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  • 23916163  |  November 16 2012, 10:44AM

    I feel very sorry for Mr stewarts family, but, speaking on a personal experience I have nothing but praise for the staff on ward A and ward W of Morriston Hospital after my mother in law was admitted in June after dislocating and breaking her ankle at 84yrs of age. She was in Morriston hospital for two and a half months and was treated with the upmost respect. All the nursing staff were very professional and caring, they looked after her with the dignity that she deserved. The only downside was that we had to hire a wheelchair from the red cross to take her outside in the fresh air, because we were told that people were actually stealing them from the hospital, and to take it home daily in case it would have been stolen. I would just like to say that not all patients are treated the same as I have nothing but praise to the staff who treated my mother in law both in Morriston and Gorseinon Hospitals.

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  • RichardCorso  |  November 15 2012, 5:44PM

    My elderly ill mother insists in being taken to Prince of Wales Hospital Bridgend as she has had too many bad experiences at Morriston Hospital and it would appear nothing has been done to improve things there. Shouldn't we change the name NHS now to the WHS as it's no longer a "National" health service but the Welsh Health Service separate from the English NHS. Seems also that given that most of the Health Authorities are overspending by several millions of pounds and having to ask for more money money that's taken from "future" budgets - If this was a normal business you would have to declare bankrupsy. What's so different that they are not declared bankrupt? The NHS/WHS service has for a long time been second rate, mostly because of the lack of care to patients - nurses and who ever else is wearing the multitude of uniforms at the hospital have missed to real meaning of "Nursing" - the care and welfare of the patients. Then you have the deadwood bureaucrats - the management who you would want managing a motel never mind a multimillion pound Hospital. Bring back the Matrons to the wards - bring back single sex wards - centralise purchasing and chose suppliers that supply products at market competitive rates not the rip off rates we see time and time again. Blacklist suppliers who rip off hospitals. As it stands Morriston Hospital is not fit for purpose - so when there was talk about closing down local hospitals - it was hoped that Morriston was to close - now we are stuck with this filthy uncaring hospital - DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!!

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  • clarysage50  |  November 15 2012, 12:48PM

    Sadly, I believe that responses are likely to be slow in view of the numbers of complaints with which this hospital will be dealing - I am aware of one such complaint which will deal with an incredible series of events which ultimately finished with the patient's death recently. I do not know what the answer is to the multitude of problems which people are encountering at this health authority but something needs to be put right before further families are devasted.

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