First Do No Harm

I haven’t written here in a long time. So long in fact there are draft posts from before this date awaiting publication. But today I feel the need to post about my Mother.

Two years almost to the day where I reported a failure in the duty of care of NHS staff at one hospital, we find ourselves caught right up in the middle of another banner-day for medical care in the UK.

After a 2:30pm admission to hospital on Saturday my Mother was forced to wait over 12 hours for pain relief which if she was at home she could have taken when she needed access to it. Instead she ‘suffered through’ till 3:15am where she couldn’t take the pain anymore and was forced to beg staff for assistance. From then till 1pm she struggled on through once more without the painkillers and other less controlled but nevertheless important medication she has been prescribed by her GP. Medication she would have and could have had easy access to at home.

The reasoning for this lack of medication is what you would expect – they need two nurses to check each other’s work before giving out controlled medication, and they need a Doctor to prescribe the medication in the first place. Then they need to request the medication from the Pharmacy before they can give it to the patient. All of this is perfectly understood, and this all takes time. But there is this little niggling thing called Duty of Care, and frankly most staff don’t give a shit, or have forgotten what this is and what this means for a member of NHS staff.

Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that all of my Mother’s medications have been previously prescribed by a GP and have been on her record for well over 4 years. She has been in control of her medication for just as long. Let’s ignore also for a moment that while in the hospital these medications needed to be prescribed, checked and double checked before they could be given, and that they could not give out these medications before Pharmacy hours. Let’s also ignore that my Mother also brought with her the physical medication that she required before she was admitted…

First step is to check her medication via the computer system. This has to be done by a Consultant. It was. From there, nobody was bothered to take responsibility enough for the Duty of Care towards my Mother, to ensure that due diligence was done, in order to make sure her medications were given on time. What actually happened was a classic case of handing off and blaming other departments. Nobody had the compassion to think ‘Hang on a minute, this patient hasn’t had any painkillers, or any of her normal medication for over a guideline amount of time, perhaps I should take responsibility and look at this for more than two seconds’.

The medications my Mother is on are strong painkillers. Some of which have addictive properties. What happens when people who rely upon medication cannot get access to it? They go into withdrawal. This is both medically dangerous and medically negligent. This is how spirals form and dark pathways are entered in to. Look it up, read the press, read the constant stream of stories of how patients are left forgotten about. Not in the third world, but here in the UK. There is a lot more to this story and there is more I have to say, but tiredness, stress and sheer hopelessness have taken over desire for now. There is a good chance this is going to break me.