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Newham NHS. How they cannot get anything right

They asked for a formal complaint even though they already knew what the problems were
but they kicked it into the long grass anyway, promising an investigation eventually.

Mr. Halton has asked me to write this complaint about the callous mistreatment of my aunt Olive Knight while in Tayberry Ward of Newham Hospital.

Olive is a near 99 year old unmarried lady with only two living relatives, me and my sister (*). She has lived independently in her own house since 1941, totally alone since 1976.

She has remained independent and self sufficient until comparatively recently with the aid of privately hired care assistants and three times weekly visits by me.

Over the past four years her memory has been failing.

On 11th April 2019 she fell and broke her leg which was ‘nailed’ together in Newham Hospital the following day.

The A&E staff provided a very acceptable service. They told me of the dangers, how physiotherapists would attend to her from the day after the operation and when her condition improved that rehabilitation could commence.

Things were very different in Tayberry Ward. She may or may not have received therapy before Good Friday on 17th April but not during Easter when the ward was close to being unstaffed. I saw two nurses on duty and when I had occasion to press a Red button they apologised for being slow to attend due to an emergency elsewhere.

On Wednesday 24th April two ladies, one in a dark blue uniform the other in light blue told me that Olive was going home next day.

The dark blue one said that “all the professionals” had judged my aunt fit to go home to live alone with carers visiting. She was still having to be lifted from chair to bed, was constipated and with a catheter.

I said it was impossible, it would take time to reinstate the carers and in any case your hospital didn’t have a key to the house, implying more negotiations were required.

The next day (Thursday 23rd) the vicar visited Tayberry ward and found Olive sitting in the departure lounge not dressed but awaiting transport. The discharge was delayed by the vicar’s intervention. I received no notification of Tayberry’s intention; how they thought they could gain access I do not know but it was clear evidence that they persisted with their idea Olive was fit to live alone. Not one phone call had been made to me at any time since admission.

My sister phoned and agreed a discharge date of Saturday 25th, assuming of course that medication, a District Nurse, Physiotherapist, Occupational therapist for house assessment and Social Services were all arranged, just as the A&E staff told me it would be.

In fact there was none of those things. Olive was unceremoniously dumped at her front door with nothing more than a piece of paper.

CityLink couriers phoned in the early evening to say they had been asked to collect and deliver medication but the instructions did not provide a collection point. I made a guess and half an hour later syringes arrived. It took until Monday 27th to get hold of a District Nurse and there has been a different one visiting every day since.

The first noticed that half the medication was missing, I had to collect it later in the day. He used the phrase “failed discharge” and so has Olive’s GP.

That first DN said he would try to get hold of both a physiotherapist and a commode and mattress as they should have been available at discharge.

The physiotherapist said (30th April) that readmission was urgent but we have since discovered that he arranged only for a visit to a gym and now says that it is for the GP to arrange readmission.

The commode and mattress arrived a day later than promised on 1st May.

The only continuing contact has been the District Nurse who administers an injection and yesterday my sister only just stopped her administering the wrong one. Occupational therapists and Social Services have both remained entirely silent.

Olive is not eating nearly as well as she did, has vomited and can only lift her foot an inch above the ground, severely limiting mobility. Your so called professionals passed her fit more than a week ago.

My sister lives in Hampshire and cannot stay in London past this weekend and Olive’s money would only cover 24 hour care for a very few weeks. It takes time to arrange a care home but your priority of shunting patients into the unknown as soon as possible - you even brag about it on your website - has not given time for any of that.

From next week I am faced with taking over care myself and my aunt is a spinster who has never been subjected to that sort of male attention and I have no nursing skills. I am also as old as you might expect of the nephew of a 99 year old.

The alternative is taking the old lady back to A&E and leaving her there. She should never have been sent home from Tayberry to live by herself as was your intention.

Your actions are tantamount to attempted manslaughter and I will consider some sort of legal redress for your criminal neglect. What I will most certainly do is report Doctor Charlotte Pratt who signed off my aunt as fit for discharge without making any preparations whatsoever to the GMC.

As I think you know, I have reported every single one of your failures publicly and I shall continue to do so while you wash your hands of the problem you created by your lack of care.

The internet will remain as a permanent reminder of your world class incompetence.

Malcolm Knight

* There is a cousin who is hospitalised.

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