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Patient voice: My mother’s care suffered on an understaffed ward

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My mother’s care suffered on an understaffed ward

MY MOTHER was admitted to hospital in June last year when she was 80. Her health had gone downhill rapidly during the preceding weeks, following a mastectomy four years earlier.

Initially she was on the assessment ward and was treated efficiently and well. After a couple of days she was moved to the elderly care ward where she died. I have been left with mixed feelings about her treatment on this ward.

I visited her a lot and it appeared her care varied wildly. Sometimes it looked like she was truly being ‘nursed’ but this was rare.

Food and drink were brought, left on her tray and taken away. She didn’t want to eat but couldn’t reach the table anyway – it was left out of her reach and she was not given any help.

Mum was always a quiet, uncomplaining soul. If she had ‘made more of a fuss’ things might have been different.

Early in her stay she told me she was sure a bedpan was still underneath her. I checked and there it was. She said it had been there for over an hour.
It was difficult to find anyone to speak to about her condition. When it was clear she was going to die, I asked if she could move to a private room but one
wasn’t available.

This was dreadful and undignified but I was too worn out and upset to make a fuss.

It seemed that a lot of the time the staff couldn’t be bothered or were too busy.

They went through the motions, taking temperatures, blood pressures, filling out charts and moving on. It was very clear that this was an understaffed ward.

The nurses appeared stressed and rushed. We heard them complaining about the situation to one another.

Joey, Swindon

This is an edited version of a story posted on Patient Opinion. For more patient views visit

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