Monday, April 13, 2009

A Steep Learning Curve - Part One.

Prior to the birth of my twins my experience of hospitals was limited to the birth of my eldest daughter.

So my impression of the health service was dependent on its public face of dedicated and caring professionals.

I was about to learn the truth - and fast!

In all honesty there were some thoroughly decent staff to be encountered at St. Michael's Hospital at that time. Unfortunately there were times when they were overshadowed and let down by others.

On the special care baby unit (known as SCBU at that time) the vast majority of the staff seemed OK. There were some little hiccups but no obvious major concerns that I was aware of at the time.

The situation on the ward was a different matter entirely!

I won't name the ward as that would be unfair on the staff who work there now but the situation there, at that time, was intolerable and unacceptable.

Like SCBU there were some really good nurses on the ward; nurses who did their jobs to a high standard and with attitudes that were applaudable. Unfortunately they were let down by a core group of nurses of spent their days bullying patients. The atmosphere on the ward changed according to who was on duty. Some of this small group of nurses were not so bad if they were on duty at different times to the rest of the group but if a few of them were on duty together the shift would be a nightmare. I remember a few escape parties - some of us would go down to the foyer and get coffee from the machines- sitting there rather than on the ward in order to get away from this group of bullies.

For some reason, which I don't understand, I seemed to be their main target and found myself being harassed by this group whenever they had the opportunity. On one occasion some friends who came to visit were appalled at the attitude of their ringleader in the way she treated me and spoke to me. I was systematically bullied into abandoning breast-feeding in favour of bottle feeding, whilst the poor girl in the next bed who wanted to bottle-feed was being bullied for that choice.

As a result of the complications of the birth I had some medical problems that were more or less ignored. The main issue was not properly addressed for some time; indeed it was only addressed on the day that my intention had been to catch a bus back to my home town in order to see our GP!

This was not what I had thought any hospital would be like. It was certainly not a situation that I would have imagined any hospital would tolerate.

I felt sorry for the decent, good nurses who were having to put up with this situation from their colleagues. It reflected badly on them as the reputation of their ward was not what it could and should have been.

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