Letter: Lounge is squalid and undignified

By READER: Catherine Sylvester | 01/06/2016 0 comments

Letter: Lounge is squalid and undignified

FOLLOWING your article (April 22) about Catherine Wilde and her dreadful experience in the Rotherham District General Hospital, I would like to tell you about my experience. I too suffered the experience of the “lounge” on the same day as Catherine Wilde (by the way she is a lovely lady who does not look to be 100-years-old.)
I actually spent 4.1/2 hours there on that afternoon. I was not even waiting for transport (my husband had come to collect me), but waiting simply for prescribed medication to arrive.
The “lounge” is simply a disused ward where one bay has been stripped of all beds and the (hard) chairs remain. The room was full up — there was no room for everyone to sit. For a time, my husband who uses crutches could not get a seat to wait with me.
The discharged patients were mostly not very well. Amongst them were very frail elderly; dementia sufferers; others with serious mental health problems (shouting out, hallucinating); people with Parkinsons; yet others who appeared to have substance abuse problems and wore urine soaked clothing. One gentleman urinated whilst seated and another seemed to be playing with himself.
There was clearly no dignity in keeping such a challenging group of people together for hours on end. I was told that it was common that discharge patients to be kept waiting for medication for up to six hours. (Why?)
This is not the first time I have experienced the horror of the “discharge lounge”. I was discharged a year ago following surgery. I was very unhappy that my husband (who was my transport) was not even  informed and I was put into an area where several men were wandering around and delving into other patients bags. Obviously I did not feel safe and my nightmare was only relieved when my husband found me at the start of visiting hours having found me missing from the ward.
The one improvement of last week over last years experience was the attitude of the nursing staff in the discharge lounge. Last year the staff were totally disinterested and unhelpful whereas I must say that the staff this year did at least try to help as best they could.
However the facilities are so poor that a willingness to help can only go so far and cannot overcome squalor, indignity and the strong feeling of being unsafe.
It is clear to me that (doubtless due to pressure of bed demand) RGDH literally shove out people from the wards at the first possible moment and banish them to the “discharge lounge” where management can forget about them and fob the poor unfortunates off with inadequate facilities and dump all the problems onto the poor staff who are trying their best.
The “lounge” is a squalid, unhealthy and undignified mess and RDGH should be ashamed of it. I felt like I was in a third world field hospital not the NHS. I can well understand why Catherine Wilde and her family were so upset by the experience.
Catherine Sylvester, Maltby


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