Care can’t get better until complaints are heardBMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e4511 (Published 02 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4511
All rapid responses
It sounds like you and your family have had a truly appalling experience at the hands of some people who clearly don't know how to do their job properly, however it also sounds like your close family member was a victim of there just not being enough staff. At the bottom end of the food chain we feel this more as junior doctors than, I believe, anyone else in the hospital. On any given day we have several families who want us to put time aside to talk to them and we want to do that, and spend a proper amount of time with these families to do the job justice, however with increasing clinical demand on us, more patients per junior and less seniors around due to the ever-so helpful 48hr working time directive we just have to prioritise our jobs according to importance working from ABC down. What does the family see? A junior doctor who is too busy to talk. What does the junior doctor see? They see a list of 33 patients to sort out in 8 hours. They feel their empty stomach and full bladder and put those at the bottom of that list, but still can't please everyone. Our aim is just to do enough of the right thing to make sure that the day passes safely for all patients on our list.
Some of this story must ring true with you? You must have been on my end of the story once upon a time? Sure the conditions have got better on paper (EWTD) but in reality this just means that when we are in the hospital we are stretched even further.
I have seen a whole variety of nurses in the last year - the majority of them work incredibly hard to make sure that patients are well looked after. They too are stretched, and whilst your story of the get well cards makes me incredibly sad, the nurses were probably too busy trying to meet managers' targets to get around to doing that sort of thing.
When staff are stretched to the extent that I have seen it is not surprising that mistakes are made and that the general public are let down. There are a lot of incidents in your article which sound like inexcusable errors. Some genuinely sound like errors due to lack of staff training. The majority sound like the sort of errors that are made when there are just not enough nurses or doctors.
In this era of cuts patients are suffering. There are no clever tactics that can compensate for short staffing and lack of training.
What can we do? Well you MUST keep complaining, and we MUST keep hoping that someone will listen.
Competing interests: No competing interests