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To be a bit distressed with attitude of hospital staff? (whilst acknowledging how busy they are?)

(29 Posts)
MrJohnsonAteMyCustard Tue 31-Jan-17 20:58:47

My elderly mother is in hospital at the moment - it's been a bad few weeks for her (and us!) and we're all of a dither. I'm bearing the brunt of dealings with medical staff and up until yesterday, everything was great - really couldn't fault the staff and people who've been looking after her.

Yesterday she was moved to a new ward. Every member of staff I've spoken to on this ward has been abrupt, occasionally rude and this evening downright obstructive. I'm very upset tonight anyway as an issue has arisen around important information not being passed along to the people caring for her (I only found out by chance) and we've had to involve the PALS service in the hospital. It's been up to me to liaise between many different units to ensure this information is known.

Tonight the sister on my mum's ward told me in no uncertain terms (in relation to the information I was passing along) "that information is not from this hospital". It was very definitely so as it was written on the day my mum was admitted hmm

I am so upset and anxious right now. I have health problems myself and all this is really putting strain on my already limited ability to cope. I suffer badly with anxiety and having people being so rude to me when I'm being so polite to them is so upsetting. Every time I ring I start out with "I know you're very busy..." and similar; basically apologetic for bothering them. But it's my mum! I'm worried!

Am I unreasonable to expect to be treated with just a smidgen of compassion? (Especially given that I'm attempting to extend same to them, knowing how over worked and crazy busy they are).

Thank you for letting me vent sad

Trifleorbust Tue 31-Jan-17 21:04:31

Of course YANBU to expect to be treated with basic courtesy. It sounds like you are going through a very hard time.

Could you give a little more detail WRT how staff were rude?

Itscurtainsforyou Tue 31-Jan-17 21:05:05


I love the NHS but sometimes I wonder why certain members of staff went into nursing/similar as they don't seem to like people...

My mum was recently in hospital and a couple of the nurses needed reporting imo for being rude and obstructive (didn't as mum didn't want to make a fuss).

Hope you get some answers/resolution soon flowers

SingingInTheRainstorm Tue 31-Jan-17 21:08:20

I know they are busy but that should never compromise the care that's being given. I hope you and your sister manage to sort things out, plus your Mum is out of there and recovers speedily.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Tue 31-Jan-17 21:09:46

I am sorry OP you need double strength to deal with the NHS and your own upset

Sigh flowers

MrJohnsonAteMyCustard Tue 31-Jan-17 21:29:58

Thanks for your supportive responses - makes me feel a tad better smile

Trifleorbust - It's difficult to put into words really. Whenever I've approached a staff member to ask a question they've just seemed, I don't know, reluctant to speak to me. Uninterested, I guess. One staff member, to give her her due, was completing paperwork when I approached, and whilst she did answer a couple of questions, it was very obvious she wanted me to go away, kept her eyes mainly on her paperwork. I did find that rather rude.

Also last night my mum needed a bed pan - she said it was urgent. I said "excuse me" to the nearest staff member and just said "my mum needs a bed pan". She reacted rather angrily. "Yes, ok, ok, calm down". This really upset me; I was only attempting to assist my mum and prevent an accident. I later said "sorry if I upset you" and she accused me of being "anxious". Strangely enough - she was right! And she wasn't helping!

I just wonder what I'm supposed to do? They are so unapproachable.

You're right, it's basic courtesy that is missing. I'm not expecting anything overwhelming, just a basic level of friendliness and approachability. Given that so many people will be struggling to deal with the illness of loved ones, you'd thing they'd have the sensitivity to not add to the relatives distress.

MrJohnsonAteMyCustard Tue 31-Jan-17 21:33:29

Oh, and on the phone, they are very abrupt and clearly do not want to engage in even a short exchange. Again, I must reiterate that I'm very understanding of the fact that they are rushed off their feet. And the nurse tonight really was out and out rude. I really hope my mum leaves that ward soon!!

christinarossetti Tue 31-Jan-17 21:33:47

YNBU at all. When you're anxious, stressed and frightened you need people to take your feelings seriously, not tell you to 'calm down'.

These type of blunt, unempathic responses are understandable given the pressure the NHS staff are under, but really, really distressing and unhelpful.

sonlypuppyfat Tue 31-Jan-17 21:39:08

I wonder if anyone has ever calmed down by being "told" to calm down!

Seeingadistance Tue 31-Jan-17 21:44:16

You are not being unreasonable at all.

It does seem that different wards have their own particular culture, even within the same hospital. Last year my son spent a week in the children's ward of our local hospital and all the staff were unfailingly lovely - helpful, calm, pleasant. And they were also under a lot of pressure. I heard them speaking quietly to each other at the nurses's station about problems finding space for new patients coming in, a lot of staff off sick, and nurses being drafted in from other wards to help out.

But none of that stress or pressure came over in how they spoke to patients or their visitors. So, yes, I understand that they are working in very difficult circumstances, but it is not inevitable that that should affect how they deal with patients and their families.

georgethecat Tue 31-Jan-17 21:52:40

Being polite to visitors/patients costs nothing.
Why do they expect you not to be anxious?
Email the chief exec - usually gets a response

cherrycokehead Tue 31-Jan-17 21:58:09

YANBU and I can relate to being 'accused' of being anxious as though it's an inappropriate way to be feeling and something to be admonished. When my baby was in hospital and I queried why treatment was being delayed, I was told 'you're very anxious, aren't you?' In a very impatient, accusing tone! Well yes, is that not a perfectly understandable way to be feeling?! I hope you and your mother are feeling a lot better very soon flowers

CaraAspen Tue 31-Jan-17 21:59:02

Not looking up from paperwork is totally uncalled for and very rude, as is being short or impatient with you. I would be furious. How dare they treat patients' families in that way. They sound defensive too.
So much for being a caring vocation.

MrJohnsonAteMyCustard Tue 31-Jan-17 21:59:48

georgethecat - writing to the Chief Executive will have to wait until the meeting with the consultant (tomorrow) is over! Spoke to him today and his attitude was disheartening to say the least. A PALS representative is attending, so pleased about that.

These supportive responses are heartening as I must admit, I was wondering if I was being a bit of a precious snowflake, whilst applying logic and reassuring myself that no, probably not, given that I've had no issues whatsoever with ANY other staff involved in mums care.

It's also encouraging that the manager of the care home she was in has raised an investigation based on the information that was missing from my mums notes. A patient safeguarding issues, she said. So, it's not just me phew

CaraAspen Tue 31-Jan-17 22:00:45

Email the Chief Executive as has been suggested. People are clients now and they expects certain standards.
They deserve to be admonished.

GooseberryJam Tue 31-Jan-17 22:04:27

First off, my elderly mum had a long hospital stay where I experienced a lot of this. I'm pretty assertive and even I found it off putting and intimidating, so I can completely see why it's upset you.

I would stop apologising or using the softening comments. They're not working, so you may as well be direct. While it's never acceptable to be rude or aggressive to staff, it may be that your apologetic approach is making it too easy for them to brush you off. Just ask your questions directly.

An old teacher's trick you could try is that when they look back at their paperwork or at the screen or whatever, stop speaking. Wait as long as it takes but eventually they'll look back at you - then you carry on. That way you are making it clear that you expect (rightfully) to be heard properly.

I would contact PALS, which is the service

GooseberryJam Tue 31-Jan-17 22:06:35

(Continued - my phone froze) that handles initial complaints like this. I actually think they mainly try to stop people making a formal complaint to the chief executive but you can always move to that later. What they may well do though is give the ward staff a bit of a nudge.

MrJohnsonAteMyCustard Tue 31-Jan-17 22:07:33

CaraAspen - yes, they have been VERY impatient. When I mentioned this in this evenings phone call (politely) I was talked at at length about how busy they a very impatient manner...confused

Lelloteddy Tue 31-Jan-17 22:10:57

What was the purpose of your phone all today?

GooseberryJam Tue 31-Jan-17 22:12:48

Sorry - have seen your subsequent posts, gone back to reread and seen you've already got PALS involved. Actually I'd now write to the chief executive then.

Something I did when my mum was in was to take a notepad with me to each visit and write down information I got from staff (ie what they'd said about how she'd been, what options for treatment were discussed, test results etc). This proved invaluable when I put a complaint together, and also made the staff take me much more seriously in any conversations I had with them.

MrJohnsonAteMyCustard Tue 31-Jan-17 22:15:39

Lelloteddy It was to ask why I hadn't been notified about something that, as next of kin I presumed I should have been informed about. During that call, I mentioned the missing information, to which I was told "that's not from this hospital" - very rudely. The information was from that bloody hospital.

I then rang the care home my mum had been in previously to get them to fax a copy of the missing info across to the hospital so they can no longer say they haven't seen it. Thought they'll probably 'lose' it....

dontbesillyhenry Tue 31-Jan-17 22:21:28

Nope I've had an exact same conversation with a colleague today.
I feel it stems from management and the attitude passed down from the top.
Nobody goes into nursing to be nasty to patients, give crap care, put patients lives at risk. Nobody does a nursing course to doss around and get an easy degree as it's one of the hardest courses going. Nobody goes into it for the money as it's one of the lowest earning professions. So why does this attitude prevail? Sadly people feel undervalued, squeezed and follow by example of poor management.
On the other side of the coin I've worked in places where management have been positive, had a no blame culture, supported staff and teams have been happy, had very low staff turnover and patient satisfaction has been very high. In my view the most important thing in the NHS is good leadership

welshweasel Tue 31-Jan-17 22:24:29

YANBU. Completely unacceptable and unprofessional. I'm sorry you're having such a hard time. That said, working conditions across much of the NHS are now utterly diabolical. The pressures are like nothing I have ever experienced. Today we were at breaking point and I was sat drinking tea as the consultant in charge of the admissions unit because the hospital was so far beyond full that there was nowhere left for me to see patients that were waiting. Relatives rooms, patient lounges, treatment rooms, all full with patients. The nurses were looking after 50% more patients than usual with no extra staff. It doesn't excuse their behaviour but may go a little way towards explaining it, given that pretty much every hospital across the country is currently in a similar position.

PALS will help you OP.

MrJohnsonAteMyCustard Tue 31-Jan-17 22:33:57

GooseberryJam - thank you. I'm certainly taking notes now as everything is getting very complicated and due to my cognitive difficulties, I'd begun to flounder. I now feel vaguely on top of it all purely because it's the only thing I can think about and it's been in my head obsessively for days! The downside of this is that my anxiety is sky high and I can feel I'm heading for a crash.

Yes, I will be direct. Generally, I am direct, but out of empathy for the staff, I like to make them aware I know what they're up against. It can have a positive effect. Not on this ward, clearly....

MrJohnsonAteMyCustard Tue 31-Jan-17 22:46:13

Cherrycokehead - that's appalling, the way you were spoken to when your baby was ill. Of course you're going to be anxious! How on earth can that be a surprise to them?? I do hope your baby was treated properly and things worked out for you both flowers

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