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Before you complain please ask yourself AIBU?

(60 Posts)
GodImtired Tue 08-Dec-15 22:21:43

So I've done nearly 30 years in the NHS as a paediatric nurse but never have I experienced the level and type of complaints that we now receive.
These are some examples:
We feed breast feeding mums, one complained her carrots were mashed (standard food on a children's ward) and not sliced.
Another mum complained that the nurses had not changed her bed sheets every day. We change the sheets in the children's beds daily, we provide sheets for the parents, as many as they want but expect them to change the themselves.
One set of parents complained that the night nurse turned the light on over her child cot in the middle of the night (to count the child's respiration rate) and this woke the parent, not the child, up.
One asked to be moved to another bed because she didn't like the view out of the window when the nurse in charge refused she complained that staff we unhelpful.
Another comlplained she didn't get one of our few. side room when she asked for one, despite not meeting the criteria for one, she said the lights around the bed of another child with complex needs kept her awake.
Parents recently complained they their child had not been reviewed by a doctor for three hours despite the fact that they could clearly see that the doctors were involved with another child who'd stopped breathing.
Parents moan incessantly about waiting even though they can see that there are loads of other children waiting and that staff are rushing around like idiots trying to see everyone. In most cases whilst they wait we feed their children and even them (which we technically aren't allowed to do that if your not a breast feeding mum), provide toys, play staff and beds/cots and chairs.
So please before you trot off to PALS to complain think about the staff. In the vast majority of cases we care passionately about your child, many of us are parents too and we know how worrying it is to have a sick child, we do try to consider parents siblings etc and try and accommodate you where we can, I personally bend over backwards to be nice to parents and their children and provide them with support and information I can as do nearly all I work with, I know there are some exceptions and some complaints are justified but not those I've mentioned above. As nurse we work long hours, my shifts are 13 1/2 hours with 1 hour for break (if im lucky), complaints like those above are very demoralising, it's make us wonder why we bother. We cannot fill our vacancies and so there is a national shortage of paediatric beds at this time of the year so please think; AIBU before complaining?

RaskolnikovsGarret Tue 08-Dec-15 22:28:13

You sound lovely. I would never complain about any of the above. The only thing I might feel like complaining about is if a nurse was rude/sarcastic/sneery to me or my DCs if I had not been demanding (this has happened). A lack of bedside manner can be upsetting at a tough time. But I fully appreciate how hard nurses work and mostly profusely thank them and the doctors on the ward. Thank you. flowers

WhyCantIuseTheNameIWant Tue 08-Dec-15 22:28:35

I wish I could get my dd on to your ward!

I agree that the majority of nursing level staff are brilliant. Especially in places like a&e. my ds and uncle have both had broken wrists recently. The care they relieved was fantastic!

Unfortunately, I might have to go to PALS for dd.

She has been waiting for an appt for her mouth since April. They make appointments, then cancel them. No reasons given. But I don't think this is the nurses...

Creatureofthenight Tue 08-Dec-15 22:34:28

I suppose sleep deprivation or stress might explain some people's behaviour, if not necessarily excusing it.
Not carrot lady, though. Honestly, what a princess.

BalthazarImpresario Tue 08-Dec-15 22:34:31

I'm having to make a complaint about an NHS service (mental health) and I really don't want to but it is a training issue that could lead to serious consequences (many people have left reviews if the establishment stating the same thing)

I've thought long and hard about whether to do it as I know that they are stretched budget wise and we are so lucky to have them.

So yes those complaints in the op are awful and I how they realise what bellends they are being.

LunchpackOfNotreDame Tue 08-Dec-15 22:39:08

As lovely as you sound as a frequent visitor to adult wards as an inpatient can I ask you to request of your colleagues to ensure pain management is kept on top of. Moreso if you take the patients own medications off them. I appreciate you are busy and bed pans need emptying but it's not pleasant if you're a quiet, sleeps most of the time patient left in distress.

What are nurses priorities on wards out of curiosity, assuming no emergencies? For arguments sake a normal general ward

LunchpackOfNotreDame Tue 08-Dec-15 22:39:49

BTW I'm not medically trained but am what you'd probably say is an expert in their own health issues

laughingatweather Tue 08-Dec-15 22:49:48

I'm torn on this one as I'm a HCP. I see lots of people NOT complain about things that they should and often, complaints lead to attention being paid to crap staff or crap systems but I know I've also seen huge amounts of NHS time taking up responding to complaints such as:

1) A service user having a weapon confiscated when they were admitted to a ward.
2 ) Service users being discharged after not attending two appointments in succession because they said they'd moved house and didn't get appt letters. But they didn't tell us or their GP they'd moved but we 'should have known'.
3) Service users complaining that their self - reported drug/alcohol/criminal problem was included in a clinic letter despite signing a consent to sharing information after consent to share information being explained.
4 ) Being expected to organise their own transport to an appt when they are able - bodied but 'don't like using the bus' unless it's to get to work and the NHS 'should cover this'.
5) Not being provided with lunch when they've already been warned an appointment will take several hours in a building with no catering.
6) Being told to leave the building as drunk when attending an appointment and they need to be sober.
7) Being discharged after threatening/assaulting staff and this was not due to any MH illness or clinical disorder.

(Details changed for these but the jist is the same and I'm sure HCPs all over the UK will recognise similar).

I could go on and on.

LumpySpaceCow Tue 08-Dec-15 22:52:47

I work within healthcare and agree some complaints are ridiculous... some however are very much needed and improve the service.

Years ago I worked for a holiday company and the complaints there were the best. People wrote to complain that:
There were too many Spanish people at the hotel (the hotel was in Spain)
The sun was too hot
The food wasn't English (in a foreign country)
To be compensated for a hurricane (that happened during hurricane season which all holiday makers were told about)
.....the list just went on!

Farandole Tue 08-Dec-15 22:59:29

I'm sure there are a lot of frivolous complaints, but more worryingly I'm equally sure there are tons of serious valid complaints that are never logged/reported. I have received appalling care, so have my children at various times. Most people won't complain because they have better things to do. That doesn't mean the care is good. When I think back of my interaction with the NHS, I mostly feel terror. Some truly scary nurses, midwives and doctors out there, and my case is not exceptional.

MiscellaneousAssortment Tue 08-Dec-15 22:59:35

Me and DS had the most wonderful, amazing, caring, professional and err, wonderful experience when DS had an operation a few weeks ago.

This was after a truly awful experience with a paed operation two years ago when DS was pre-school, which left both me and DS in pieces and terrified of the NHS. It was awful at the time and to be honest I was too busy dealing with the mental & emotional damage they did to my son, so felt unable to complain, so I can't help thinking they got away with it, and how awful that they might be doing this to another mother & child sad

The latest experience has done alot of good beyond the physical benefit it gave DS. My hope was for them to do no more damage to him, and that they'd not add to his terror.

What they did was positive and it's beyond my use of words to explain how pathetically grateful I am to them. Each and every person went out of their way to help him (& me), and my little boy came out feeling proud of himself and his bravery for once... Rather than the nightmares, constant stomach pain, anxiety, and the panic attacks he had about having to go into hospital again.

He cried when it was time to go home!

So in short. HCP can be appalling and ruin people's lives, and should always be held to account for doing so.

But HCP can do so much good, they can put children back together too, when they behave with expertise and truly amazing kindness. I had never experienced such expertise and care towards my child. I was getting really embarrassed by the end at the amount of times I was saying thank you! They talked me through everything and kept looking confused/ horrified each time I said 'and X can never happen again, never I'm sorry if that's awkward' and they made it very clear that not only would they not being doing X but they would never do X and in fact it would be against hospital policy. Thank fuck. It made me realize how awful the other time was and how much it had been wrong, not because I wasn't a good enough mum as I couldn't stop them, or that it was my fault for not dealing with them better, but that those people had done things wrong and not every hospital was the same. I would like to complain now, as it's clear how much damage they did to DS and me if we both fall apart 2 years later at the mere suggestion of DS needing another op, but I don't think my complaint would get anywhere as they made it pretty clear they could do anything they wanted.

But you've also reminded me to get on with the thank you card to the second hospital.

But also, maybe you can tell me how I could pass on my positive comments in a way that will be heard by the people that matter to those who were so amazing (so, their bosses? The trust? Not sure who as it wasn't one person or one type of person, it was every single member of staff that had any interaction with us, consultant, anaesthetist, recovery, nurses etc etc.

HackerFucker22 Tue 08-Dec-15 23:06:28

Ended up on a paediatric ward when DC1 was 13m and had a viral induced wheeze, was there for 3 nights (DC1 was quite poorly) and I cannot fault the care..In fact several years later I am still in touch with the ward - we donate toys and books when we have a clear out.

I am not saying people shouldn't complain but I think it's definitely a case of 'picking your battles'

AnyFucker Tue 08-Dec-15 23:07:14

MA, go onto the hospital website

There will be contact details for the chief executive. Write a letter to her/him.

lavenderhoney Tue 08-Dec-15 23:10:56

Well, to me those complaints seem a bit out there. But - people under stress often do complain about things. PALS is there to help that. I'm afraid pals told me the maternity nurses would say I was hormonal. They didsad. Unfortunately the cruelty had already been reported by an independant mw so they lucked out.

I've complained. One led to the registrar being struck off for illegal practice, the surgeon for just being fucking inept, and a danger- she sliced open my unborn child, narrowly missing his eye- during a routine cs- he also the right to sue when older, and also the " care" on maternity wards. I had a lawyer who specialised in childbirth and labour and she was exhausted and traumatised with it all.

I have also sat in HDU watching an over worked and exhausted nurse take care of my Dd and save her in early hours when it seemed impossible. I wrote to everyone I could think of to praise them and the ambulance team, the medic car. You absolutely need to rest and remember you're doing an amazing job.

PoppieD Tue 08-Dec-15 23:12:18

At miscelleanous- our hospital has comment cards that patients/families can fill in- these then go up on a whiteboard on the ward as a 'you said/we did' am pleased to hear you had a much more positive as it should be experience the second time. issues we get complaints about are- 'being woken up to be seen by the doctor' 'I don't like the bedding' 'I didn't like sharing a room' also when people visit please remember HCP while they will try to supply you with drinks when they can but this is not a priority so coming shouting at us when we are helping a very sick patient that you are still waiting for YOUR cup of tea when the tea machine is along the corridor is not helpful!!

WorraLiberty Tue 08-Dec-15 23:20:05

I'm sure there are a lot of frivolous complaints, but more worryingly I'm equally sure there are tons of serious valid complaints that are never logged/reported.

Yes I agree with this.

Sometimes all you want to do is get you/your loved one out of there, so often we don't complain about the things we really should.

originalusernamefail Tue 08-Dec-15 23:29:36

There are times when I encourage patients to complain, it is often to highlight hospital policies and cuts which make my job harder i.e transferring a patient out of critical care in the early hours, it is neither safe nor fair on the still poorly patient and they may have been identified for step down hours/days before. I also encourage them to complain when the PRIVATE catering company remove all the bread/butter and tea cups between meal service so we are unable to provide food/ hot drinks between meals. I think as with most walks of life those who shout loudest get attention while the quiet (and usually most in need ones) get left out.

squiggleirl1 Tue 08-Dec-15 23:40:03

I think one of the most marked signs of inherent failings within healthcare situations is when patients are referred to as 'service users'.

DetonationStation Tue 08-Dec-15 23:51:51

Sounds like some eyemasks could be useful stock in the hospital shop (personally, I don't know how anyone manages without them).

Perhaps also a sign pointing out there is no 'spi' and 'a' in 'hotel' on your ward

Gwenhwyfar Wed 09-Dec-15 00:07:46


I take all your points, but I am scared to death of the whole thing of being taken off the waiting list if you miss an appointment thing. I had a letter arrive a day or two before an appointment. I could easily miss that. On top of that, I don't have my own letter box, which is not my fault. For people in my situation, it would really help if we could get them by email as well to make sure we receive them.

LineyReborn Wed 09-Dec-15 00:16:25

If patients don't complain when staff are rushed off their feet, surely staffing levels will simply get worse?

GodImtired Wed 09-Dec-15 00:26:50

I genuinely think patients and their relatives should complain when they receive rubbish care, This is the only way things will change, the NHS is on its knees there is literally no money left, this is having a massive impact on our patients, please complain vociferously if your not treated with kindness or consideration, if your operation in cancelled or for example your put in an emergency bed space with no call bell locker or chair or kept on a trolley for hours on end in a corridor the more people who raise awareness of what's actually going on the greater the chance something might be done about it before it's too late. I also fully understand when people are under stress what would normally be trivial becomes important. But many forget they're in a hospital not a hotel, how important is the view out of a window when your ill? Who changes your sheets daily at home. I'm just asking you to think about the nursing staff, it's demoralising when someone complains about mashed carrots when you've gone that extra mile for their child.
originalusernamefail we have unlimited bread butter jam marmite on the ward although one recent complaint was about the lack of honey, we also have snack bags lots of ice creams yogurts breakfast cereals and fruit. Childrens wards have high turn overs with admissions at all hours and although a little time consuming when your rushed off your feet I'm always very willing to provide and prepare food for children and as I said above to their parents as well despite this being against hospital policy. Having said this we watched one set of parents recently eat the toast I'd hurriedly made for their child whilst trying to do 10 other things at the same time and then moan about the wait (15 mins) for some more.
Its not that I want endless thank you cards/gifts etc (nice as they are) but parents (in my case) just need to think before they complain. The children and their families are at the heart of all I and my colleagues do, we don't want anyone to wait unnecessarily, be in pain, be frightened, overly worry or feel that staff are not communicating effectively with them, we are here for them but too many more ridiculous complaints when we're already under so much pressure will have a disasterous effect your and my NHS.

GodImtired Wed 09-Dec-15 00:30:20

Liney there are no staff we don't get anyone even applying for our vacancies despite repeatedly advertising them. We are running every shift with at least one member of staff down, we have to close 6 beds for every member of staff we're short on a shift.

AuntMabel Wed 09-Dec-15 00:32:17

I do not think YABU, some complaints are daft and should be filed as such.

At the other end of the spectrum however, I've had to contact PALS twice this week. Genuine concerns rather than complaints and both related to my elderly Grandparents. One is in hospital not being toileted properly or receiving any form of 'rehab' on the unit she is in to prep her for going home, still can't walk and can barely stand unaided, is moved from bed to chair and left there the entire day thus has developed multiple pressure sores.

The other was assured her gall bladder would be removed within 4 weeks 8 months ago. She now has an appointment later this week but we're still not sure what for. The reason for the delay? Lack of clerical admin to write her appointment letters.

Out2pasture Wed 09-Dec-15 00:33:56

Thank you for posting this.
Sometimes I wonder why I retired as I'm fairly young and do have a bit more to give.
I won't be giving my energy to health care.

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