Good after care is vital

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

As one of the many regular readers of our local Lancaster Guardian I feel I can praise your many efforts to bring us the local news and events, which are in the main the honest views of your readers and others as they see it emerging from the many resources.

In the issue of November 27 there were many points raised by Mr Jeremy Hunt regarding the future of our treasured local trusts, and I, like a lot more, can applaud our Lancaster University Hospital, A and E and also in-house patients, who like myself have had these needs on more than one occasion; and I offer some praise in my reception and treatment by the staff, from consultants to other essential staff within the domestic and hygiene responsibilities.

To benefit fully from this professional treatment, also to help reduce the often highlighted problem of bed blocking, which is blamed when waiting list are open to criticism, many patients are discharged in to the home care services that are still a vital part of our NHS and just as essential in promoting patients recovery, and hopefully avoiding the need to readmit the patient often in the short term.

Mr Hunt’s replies to the many questions raised, including some from our local MP, were changes that may affect the trust, the possibility of specialist centres across the trusts, I feel no one who requires this specialist need would object too. He went on to say that it was also better that patients were treated near to their home, again the maximum travel within our trusts is only second to specialist treatment, the first consideration surely is specialist treatment. I speak as a patient having experienced this specialist need on more than one occasion, and have successfully received specialist treatment in our local Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

To fully benefit however from such treatment is the qualified home care package often required on discharge, and is just as an essential chapter in the recovery of patient and if not followed up can and often does result in the patient being returned to hospital, and contributes to what Mr Hunt told us is the £25 million deficit our trust must reduce. Mr Hunt, also in replying to a question from our local MP, outlined that cutting down paperwork was part of his intentions to bring down this £25 million deficit.

Having had the need for this specialist treatment and discharged following serious surgery, with a home care package in place, that if not followed could have life threatening consequences, which were explained by the consultant surgeon at the point of discharge and fully understood by the patient, this home care package however was not followed or adhered to by after care services, further emergency surgery was again necessary, the patient also required further treatment both in accident and emergency and on the wards, a great deal of this hospital treatment could have been avoided, proved when the home care was then reinstated leading to a full recovery.

I felt that as this discharge package was put in place by the consultant, with the consequences fully explained, and whilst discharge staff were present and made aware of these consequences outrageous and such was the quality of subsequent home care, as a patient I considered I was placed at serious risk, and I was continually being returned back to A and E these returns visits by Ambulance were necessary and essential which were mainly brought about by the failure of discharge instructions being carried out Hospital instructions, which if not adhered too could have resulted in greater risks of the patients survival, all of which was explained to the patient on their discharge, who is an aging pensioner with other serious health problems and lives alone.

With the hope of bringing this to the notice of those team leaders who are commissioned to the duties of after care after care, at the same time action some changes to reduce the staggering costs of our NHS an attempt was made through the published complaints procedure, and this fictional futile complaints procedure is something Mr Jeremy Hunt could save costs by having a procedure.

After passing paperwork backwards and forwards like confetti for 18 months, to so many different persons it makes one think the NHS must be overstaffed not as so often stated understaffed, the final brief note after 18 months informing the aggrieved patient.

Lessons have been learnt, only to have a repartition of a similar incident with similar seriousness by the same person qualified in the same after care section of our local trusts, again obviously putting the patient was placed at risk again, confused by the Consultant why the patient had not received post operative assessment this occurred in July this year when the patients treatment was cancelled over the phone, but is still receiving treatment from the Consultant in his Clinic for the same medical problem and what lessons were learnt, only the patient who is still trying after 2 years has learnt that if you have a complaint you may be more likely to die before you find the end of this very long chain of who he has to complain too, but still trying.

I do however still applaud the hospital staff, who do try hard to care for the sick whilst undergoing in house treatment, but what about a simple complaints procedure that does not take up two years of some ones time within the NHS and also highlight these individuals who’s repeated inconsiderate behaviour towards patients needing the aftercare, instructed by the hospital on discharge, which is detrimental and costly to both the image off our local trusts and the patient.

Name and address supplied.