Operation delays lead to complaints

PACEMAKER patients have been starved for up to a week as they waited in vain for operations, it has been revealed. Ill heart patients at Ipswich Hospital went without food day after day as they prepared for operations that failed to happen, due to a shortage of beds.

PACEMAKER patients have been starved for up to a week as they waited in vain for operations, it has been revealed.

Ill heart patients at Ipswich Hospital went without food day after day as they prepared for operations that failed to happen, due to a shortage of beds.

Helen Peace, manager of the hospital's Patient Advice and Liaison Service, highlighted the issue to bosses as she reviewed the past year - because it had been the cause of several complaints to the service.

She said: "There have been people who have starved five days a week then got their pacemaker on the sixth day. This is particularly difficult for patients who have diabetes. I think that does need addressing."

PALS has been running since September 2001, to help patients, relatives and carers by resolving problems quickly and efficiently, providing information, and find a resolution to problems.

It also informs people of the hospital's formal complaints procedure and independent advocacy services, and helps flag up gaps in hospital services.

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A year's review of the service showed people had contacted the service 1,025 times a year. The busiest days for complaints, comments, advice seeking and praise, were Mondays, and people aged 66-80 were most likely to contact the service - which is the biggest age group for patients.

PALS at Ipswich Hospital already meets 80pc of new medical standards set nationally, which she helped formulate.

Mrs Peace said: "The number of people coming to us is on the increase and we now need a three-telephone line instead of just one. I've noticed that people are coming back to us time after time."

She sometimes phones people who have written to complain, and finds their anger has dispersed and they drop their complaint - which once would have been followed as a formal complaint.

At the hospital board meeting on Friday director of nursing and patient services Clare Barlow praised Mrs Peace's direct referral of problems to management, so action could be taken to resolve problems.

Mrs Peace said: "A lot of it is about people not understanding waiting list times, as they are told at clinics that their operation will happen 'as soon as possible.' That could mean within three weeks to them, but it could be a nine-month wait and that communication could do with being improved."

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