Patients tell hospital: Get your act together!

IPSWICH Hospital has today been issued with its own sick note by angry patients.

Rebecca Lefort

DISTRAUGHT patients have today issued a dire prognosis to Ipswich Hospital after a series of failings.

A trio of patients have voiced their concerns after a litany of problems which saw them:

- Woken in the middle of the night and forced to move beds

- Waiting for hours on a hospital trolley

- Told with just a moment's notice that their operation was cancelled

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- Treated far away from home because of medical rotas

- Prescribed drugs other hospital medics had told them to avoid

Although the dedication, professionalism and skill of the doctors and nurses working at Ipswich Hospital have not been questioned, the patients are concerned that the hospital's procedures and structures are hampering its ability to provide top-notch care.

The revelations come just a week after the hospital was condemned for leaving 21 patients waiting more than six months for operations.

Ipswich Hospital has already been given a warning notice by commissioners NHS Suffolk because it cancelled too many operations at short notice last year.

Today Ipswich Hospital's chief executive, Andrew Reed, acknowledged the problems and pledged to make changes.

“We know we have an issue with cancelled operations,” he said.

“We also know that we shunt people around the hospital too often, sometime at inappropriate times.

“We obviously take these concerns and comments very seriously indeed.

“We are very sorry that these things happened. We know that this does happen and before this emerged we had already made a big commitment to change.

“We have made significant progress to reduce the number of cancelled operations, for example with 21 in February compared to 80 in November.

“Each of the patients' concerns are being investigated but we stress again that it is not acceptable to cancel operations at short notice or to move patients for non-clinical reasons in the middle of the night.

“It is only done if there are many emergency admissions. It is a top priority in the coming year to tackle these issues.”

- Have you been moved in the middle of the night or had your operation cancelled at short notice? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail

Case Study: Leslie Arbon

SICK and worried, Leslie Arbon has been waiting since September for an operation which should determine once and for all if the cancer he thought he'd beaten has returned.

So when Ipswich Hospital cancelled the procedure with only hours to go, the 62-year-old wept with despair.

Mr Arbon, a great-grandfather and former taxi driver, had already had another operation cancelled just 15 minutes after it was arranged, and he has still not been given a new date.

“To turn me away when I was already at the hospital was not very humane,” he said.

“I sat there and I had a really good cry. I told the nurse I didn't want her in the room.”

Mr Arbon, of Longfield in Felixstowe, has been in and out of hospital since 2004 when one of his lungs was removed after he was diagnosed with cancer.

He now has prostate problems and a catheter, and in September he was told he needed an operation to determine if the cancer was back, and to remove part of his prostate if needed.

Originally he was told the op would be carried out before Christmas, but that didn't happen.

On March 16 he got a call to say Ipswich Hospital could fit him in two days later, but within 15 minutes, while he was arranging transport to the hospital, he was called again to say it had been cancelled.

Then another date of March 27 was arranged and Mr Arbon was taken to Heath Road by his daughter at 7am.

The pre-theatre checks were carried but at about 10am a lack of beds meant once again his operation had to be cancelled.

Mr Arbon said: “I am so upset. I just wanted to get it over with. The staff at the hospital are fantastic, but the procedures don't seem right.”

Case study: Stefan Bilby

PASSED from pillar to post, Stefan Bilby was so disillusioned with the care Ipswich Hospital provided that he tried to discharge himself while he was still sick.

Suffering from glandular fever, the 18-year-old needed quiet and rest to recover from the illness, but instead was moved in the middle of the night.

Originally the Great Horkesley teenager went to Colchester Hospital at about 4pm on March 8.

But because of the shared ear, nose and throat emergency on-call rota between Ipswich and Colchester he was told he had to go to Heath Road - but was given a firm promise he would return to the hospital near his home the next morning.

After reaching Ipswich at about 6.30pm he was left on a trolley until, desperate for a bed, the shy youngster plucked up the courage to ask to be moved at about 1.30am.

Despite the pledge to take him to Colchester, Stefan had to stay in Ipswich, away from his family, and then at 2.30am on Tuesday morning he was woken up, and told he was being moved again.

His mother, Josiane, said: “He couldn't believe he was woken up and told he had to move wards.

“And in the new ward he didn't have a locker or table and there was another patient who went round the wards stomping on people's beds.

“He said he wanted to discharge himself because he couldn't stay there any longer.”

The family were so appalled with Stefan's treatment that they considered paying for private care, but couldn't afford the �500 fee.

Eventually a nurse practitioner at Ipswich Hospital came to their aid and moved Stefan to another ward where he had a private room and was finally able to rest and start recovering.

Mrs Bilby said: “He has been so badly treated. I am particularly worried that the hospital plans to create more joint on-call rotas. It is saving money at the patients' expense.”

Case study: Karen Cackett

WHEN 49-year-old Karen Cackett developed agonising stomach pains and needed to be rushed to hospital she just wanted to be told what was wrong.

But after being given conflicting advice from medics at Ipswich Hospital and told she would face a long wait, Mrs Cackett was only given the treatment she urgently needed after her husband made a formal complaint.

Mrs Cackett, of Needham Market, developed stomach pains on March 12 and was taken to the Heath Road site.

Her husband, Steve, said: “After waiting in the emergency ward for several hours she was eventually found a bed, and then moved again at 2am in the morning.

“She was told the Codeine she had been prescribed by her GP, because of back problems, had probably caused problems with her stomach and that she should stop taking these immediately.

“Amazingly without finding out what the problem was she was sent home and told that they needed the bed and that she would be contacted soon to arrange an appointment for an endoscopy.”

The earliest the hospital said Mrs Cackett could be seen was April 14, leaving her distressed with the wait.

In the meantime, on March 24 she went back to Ipswich Hospital for unrelated surgery on her knee, where she was told to take Codeine-based medication to take the pain away.

Mr Cackett added: “She mentioned that she was told not to take them but still they insisted she should.

“But the next day the stomach pains came back. After arriving in the emergency department again she was subjected to exactly the same tests all over again whilst suffering excruciating pain.”

The hospital still said Mrs Cackett would have to wait weeks for the endoscopy, but admitted that if the couple were willing to pay to have private treatment it could be arranged within 24 hours.

It was only after Mr Cackett complained, taking his anger to the upper echelons of hospital management, that his wife was finally given the endoscopy she needed on Monday.