Letter: Angry with a system at breaking point

exterior shot of whitby hospital
exterior shot of whitby hospital
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Thank you Whitby Hospital!

My mother died last week on War Memorial Ward in Whitby Hospital.

She had been in the hospital system since January - I’ve already written one letter about her 28 hours on the trolley experience so for those of you who are interested this is the follow up.

She spent a total of nine weeks in Scarborough Hospital apart from the five days when she was shipped down to Bridlington late at night when Scarborough deemed her medically fit for discharge. She was loaded onto the trolley at 2pm and got there at 8pm.

She went down with another infection the following day and was sent back to Scarborough.

I didn’t know it was Scarborough Hospital’s policy not to move a dementia patient between wards, it was all new to me this hospital stuff.

My mother was moved between three different wards.

Perhaps they moved her to get me off their case when I challenged the doctor and staff about them claiming (for the second time) that she was ‘fit for discharge’ when she couldn’t stand, wasn’t eating and had deteriorated considerably from when she arrived.

Sorry, mum, I was just trying to protect you.

I’m not a doctor you see but I know my mum. It took her 28 hours to get her bed let’s make sure she’s well before we give it back to them.

After several weeks my mother became so ill she was sent back to Whitby Hospital for the last week of her life.

As she was settled into her room on War Memorial Ward, I felt myself relaxing for the first time in a lot of weeks. I knew she was safe now, would be looked after with dignity and respect and given the high level of care the staff there excel at.

I am angry, not with individuals, not even with the senior members of staff of Scarborough Hospital who on two separate occasions made me feel like the worst daughter in the world.

It’s the system I am angry with.

For the staff who work in an industry stretched to breaking point, for the elderly people I chatted to who had been declared ‘medically fit for discharge’ and were being sent home without adequate care in place.

I am upset for the 93-year-old man in the room next to my mother’s who has cancer and is being sent home to be cared for by his wife who is scared about how she will cope and hasn’t been allocated a social worker to help and advise her.

I am angry for the patients who can’t feed themselves and staff who are so busy they often can’t help them.

I am angry at a system that caused me to shout at a doctor in the corridor who wanted to discharge my mum, ‘You keep old people going with your Peter Pan drugs then when they need you, you can’t help them. How ill do people have to be to keep their bed?’

And I am frightened for my own old age. I have no children to fight for me and two parents who both had Alzheimer’s, what will happen to me?

My mother died in my arms with a beautiful view of the town she loved from her room next door to the one my father died in 12 years previously, cared for by some of the same staff who cared for him.

Thank you War Memorial Ward for bringing order out of the chaos and giving my mother the best possible ending. You are proof it is not all bad.

Suzanne Clark

Stakesby Manor

Whitby