The Royal Marsden Hospital (Chelsea)
10th February 2022
This was my second cycle of chemo. The first appointment last month January 2022, was at noon. It was to take 2.5 hours, but appreciate would be a bit longer. Took 6 hours. Nurse had two tries at installing canula (I fully appreciate that I do have thin veins and it can be problematical and I mentioned that) But after two unsuccessful and painful attempts, she had to call a ?senior/more experienced nurse who inserted the canula in seconds without issue.
The same thing arose on my second cycle, today, in February, causing me pain. Once again, the nurse, after two unsuccessful painful attempts, had to call upon a senior/more experienced nurse who did the job successfully, and pain free in seconds.
Additionally, more problems arose today, as my medication has not been delivered when I arrived at my 2pm appointment. I originally had a 4pm appointment, but changed it to 2pm. However, due to a failure of communication somewhere, nobody informed the pharmacy dept of that fact, and consequently the medication could not be delivered until 4pm. (Cutting to the chase. I ended up leaving around 6pm or a bit later, definitely several hours later than I should have been.)
Meanwhile as time wore on during the afternoon, around 3pm, I became very hungry, as I had not packed food, owing to the fact that I did not expect to be there for so long. Therefore I I had had no lunch. The hospital shop was sold out, so I just bought a kitkat. But a nurse was kind enough to find a sandwich for me, when I mentioned my lack of food to her. Additionally, as I have several food intolerances, it was fortunate the nurse hit upon a sandwich I could eat, otherwise I would have been starving with only a kitkat to eat.
I have two different drugs, and when the first one has finished, I always ask the nurse dealing with me if it is okay if I use the toilet before they hook up the next one. A matter of about five minutes.
I have already had six cycles of different chemo last year 2021, and have never, until today, been met with a responsive "sighing sound" of annoyance, when I ask that question at that juncture) followed by "you will have to wait when you come back as I have to deal with another patient". I replied "okay, but I have to go" which was true. She then added "you can go to the loo whenever you want and can take the stand (not her exact word but I mean the hook up paraphernalia) with you". I replied that I was quite aware of that, but did not want to trail that around the room with me. By that time I was tired and fed up, and did not take kindly to her attitude. Most likely she was stressed out too, hence her comment to me.
The reason I always keep toilet using to a minimum is that it adds time to the whole session, as when you return with the "trolley" hook up, you then have to wait quite a while, for a nurse to stop the bleeper alarm, and set the whole thing in motion again. This is a waste of their valuable time also.
I had six months of chemo here in the Medical Day Unit in 2021. It was exemplary on all fronts. Always happy and confident to go.
I am very sorry to say, IMHO the standards have dropped since then. My confidence has taken a knock after today.
From the above experience, I think there is absolutely not enough staff around to cope properly. This is creating stress for both nurses and patients in an already highly stressful environment by its very nature.
Additionally, more senior staff should be around the ward, hands on, helping out, taking the heat off, so more junior staff can work better, causing less pain to their patients and without recourse to seniors, as in my case.
Additionally whilst I fully appreciate the backlog of patients due to covid 19, must be the root of the problem, there should be more effective communication between departments to keep mistakes to the minimum, and I cite the delayed medication as an example of this.
You must reduce the stress on your nurses. It is having an undesirable knock on effect to your patients.