Tuesday, 10 February 2009
The Complaints Procedure in a Nutshell
I wanted to add this to my post about protected meal times but it just got to long. At university my english professors used to get on my back about rambling and run on sentences and you can see why!!!
Those of you have been reading my blog know that staff at my hospital have been complaining and pushing management to hire more nurses for years. Instead they have turned away scores of newly qualified nurses and told them that there are no jobs. Occasionally they hire a 17 year old care assistant on less than minimum wage and expect us to be very grateful for that. Teenagers that age with no experience cannot seem to grasp that if we say that a patient has swallowing problems and needs pureed diet you don't fucking give them sandwiches and biscuits. They leave pnuemonia patients lying flat and pyrexic patients (temp of 39.5) covered with 200 blankets because they are "shivering". I am rambling again.
I have written about feeding patients and how the nurses have pushed and pushed and sent numerous complaints into management about the clusterfuck that is meal time. The vast majority of these letters of complaint from staff came from my ward. We have the monopoly on patients that cannot feed themselves and we are also the most short staffed.
Between July and January we sent many letters. We begged. We pleaded. Management refused to speak to us and the matrons stated that they couldn't do a thing about it all. But we have our letters dated, copied and on file. All of them.
In March or thereabouts the complaints department received a complaint from the daughter of a patient from our ward. This woman was horrified about how much weight her loved lost while an inpatient on my ward. She was understandably angry about finding cold food left in front of her relative, out of reach. So she did the right thing and complained. She mistakenly believed that management doesn't realise what is going on. She wanted them to know so that the problems could be fixed so no one else suffers.
We saw the letter of complaint even though we never should have. Militant Medical Nurse has spies everywhere you know. We also saw the response from management which I have paraphrased here:
Dear Mrs. Jane Doe,
We are so sorry to hear about your relative's ordeal. We will deal with the nursing staff and make sure that they understand that it is their job to feed patients. They will have a ward meeting about this issue.
Okay, the last two sentences are pretty much word for word.
This letter went out from the same managers that had received the complaints from the nursing staff demanding protected meal times. They knew what the situation was.
Management and the good folks at the complaints department were questioned by a colleague of mine about this letter. They were asked why they just dumped this whole thing back on the nursing staff. Their response was "well sorry but we cannot admit liability on the part of management".
Oh the shame. Now this woman basically thinks that we are too stupid and lazy to help vulnerable people at mealtime. It finally dawned on me that our hardwork trying to cope at mealtimes and letters of complaint were meaningless. It's mortifying.