Written by a private patient
9th May 2023
Since I was a private patient and not paid for by the NHS and noting that I have been a UK taxpayer my entire life, I feel at full liberty to both praise and criticise the experience I had in having my hip procedure at Wrightington. The various consultations, scans, x-rays, etc. both at Wrightington and elsewhere costs were in excess of £10,000 personally, which is a lot of money, but I had no hesitation in paying noting I felt a good chance of a positive outcome. I was delighted when Mr Tim Board found a space to operate on me so quickly after seeing him in the first instance (probably less than 1 month). Indeed, when I agreed, I was immediately taken to see a nurse to give all my pre-op details. I am a somewhat complicated patient, in view I have had 2 back operations, 2 shoulder operations, a false hip, hernia and stent. Whilst I consider myself relatively healthy, it is quite a lot to have had for a man of my age. My explanation of the afore mentioned to the nurse the day that I was offered the chance to have an op the following week took 1.5 hours and understandably, in view having to explain all the afore mentioned to include the many medications that I was on and continue to be on. In summary, the lovely nurse was both charming and caring and at that point I could not have been more delighted about the way I was treated. It was quite simply 5-star treatment and in particular regard to care, speed of potentially getting the job done and the reassurance it gave me that I was in the right place.
On arrival the day of my procedure, I was quickly shown to my room, met with Tim Board who made it clear I was first on the list of the 4 patients on the list he had to operate on that day. Noting that I had arrived at 07:30 as requested. Michelle, Tim's charming PA, could not have been better and a tribute to everything I had received so far. I then met the anaesthetist Mr Neerha Sharma, where he offered me the opportunity to either go to sleep or have a (what I understand) epidural in my back. In fairness to Mr Sharma and not being a natural fan of being awake for potential chiselling of my hip, I advised I'd prefer to be asleep but since they were far and away more knowledgeable on what was best for me, I would refer to his better knowledge and be happy with whatever he decided. Mr Sharma clearly and carefully explained that the staying awake option was preferable for a man of my age and condition. Once again, I am pleased to report that his reassuring, professional and easy manner made me realise letting him make the choice on my behalf was the right decision.
At this point things really couldn't have been better. But sadly, having felt almost elated at the prospect of being mended, things suddenly became a little bit more stressful. I was then asked by a new nurse, by the name of Favour, that I would have to answer some additional questions. My wife was present and was aware that I had already answered everything on the day I agreed to have the operation the week before. However, it seemed that I had to do it all over again. Unfortunately, Favour chose to do these questions using a computer and a process that probably should have taken 5 minutes took some 45 minutes and we were far from finishing it. At 09:10am I believe a nurse by the name of Joanna Clarke came in to see what the delay was.
There was a problem because I found it very difficult to understand the questions that were being asked as the lady was from an international background, and while perfectly polite, it was abundantly clear she was barely up to the task being handed. I simply didn't understand her half the time, and neither did my wife. And what's more, I was answering questions that I'd already answered at the pre-op stage, leading me to ask not only my wife but also Favour, why did I have to answer all these questions. Nevertheless, we cracked on and I repeated the information that I had given in its entirety for the second occasion. Let’s remember here that I was a fee-paying client, I had my own private room, I had pre-paid just under £5,000 to the hospital for care that would extend to 2 nights at the hospital and not a small sum but one that I was more than willing to pay. I had been advised that it was likely that I would be going into the operating room by about 08:30 but by 09:10 we were still filling out a form that I had already completed, with a nurse who was working on a computer that she found difficult to operate. I unapologetically say she was not up to task and delayed my operation and everyone else's work in this regard by a minimum of 40 minutes resulting in. As I recall, Joanna Clarke coming in with a paper questionnaire (again a repeat of what the computer form that Favour was finding so hard to complete). Joanna completed the task with me in under 3 minutes and then off I went to surgery.
Mr Sharma was a bit of a legend and despite my back was calcified (as he put it) he did not give up, and after some 30 minutes my lower half was no longer to be felt. Thereupon I was opened up, hammer and chisel administered (I assumed) and 1.5 hours later the job was done. The surgeon, anaesthetist and assistant were world class, as was the delightful lady who greeted me in recovery. A clear, concise chat with Tim Board suggested to me that things had worked out well and once again I was very pleased at the potential outcome.
Back to my private room for me and lots of pills, painkillers etc. and being met by my caring wife, I was able to explain some 4.5 hours later what had happened to me. Later that evening I had a bleed, and the 2-night nurses reapplied my dressing with military efficiency and reassured me that the bleeding was nothing to worry about. I was not concerned although in some discomfort.
I was slightly surprised at nobody offering to wash me during my whole time in the hospital noting I had been there for 36 hours before I left. The evening post my surgery, I was not able to leave my bed, but I wondered why nobody had offered me to clean my teeth, nothing that I probably had breath that would drop a charging rhino. I said nothing and accepted that I must be in good hands.
Noting that I was in an NHS hospital, I found the compliance side a monumental waste of everybody's time and spoiled in my opinion, an exemplary performance by many of the team. My name was there for all to see, in my private room and yet every time I was given anything I had to say what my name and date of birth was. I had my personal medicines confiscated because I did not have the boxes to prove whether they were in or out of date and consequently did not take my evening heart medication because they were taken from me, to be given back when I left the hospital. To my mind, what I bring in and what I choose to take, noting that everything had been advised and agreed upon in the pre-op questionnaire I simply do not understand why my medicines that were known to all and sundry were confiscated. It seemed to me that red tape and compliance had resulted in common sense being thrown out of the window.
Let’s face it, I had paid privately for the hospital care, and whilst parts of it were excellent, it seemed the less experienced nursing staff were forced to tread on eggshells and efficiencies were lost and patients such as myself had their procedures delayed by 40 minutes at least when it simply did not need to be that way.
I felt very sorry for Favour in truth, I liked her and engaged with her, had found out that she had come over from Nigeria, was married and had 5 children, but I did not feel she should have been by nurse as a fee paying client because she had not had sufficient training and to that end had spoilt for me what had been an exemplary performance. I repeat, my grievance is not at Favour, it is the fact that nobody had taken the trouble to explain the urgency of getting her side of the job done including operating a computer when it could be done so much easier.
When I met with the physio and her male assistant (presumably to catch me incase I fell) I expressed on standing up slight dizziness. Immediately I was told to go back to bed despite my protestations that I was going to be alright. Another eggshell moment for my poor physio, I should have just said I'll be fine. After-all, I had been horizontal for the best part of 24 hours and was no wonder I felt a little dizzy standing up don't you think. A second visit early the following morning, I once again stood up and was asked how I felt. I felt fine was my response, again I did feel a bit dizzy but thought better than to advise her. It was almost as if any slight dizziness would lead her to having to tell me to lie down again. I pressed on, went to the bathroom, walked down the corridor, up and down 2 pretend sets of stairs and genuinely the dizziness was gone. My advice to any forthcoming patients is that if you feel even half ok, just crack on or before you know it, you'll be in there for a week because they won't let you do anything. More eggshells I'm afraid. If would seem that in today's compliant world everyone is being forced to cover their back, waste time and effort rather than to take a more old-fashioned approach of just get on with it. I quickly learned that if I was to get out of there, I needed to grow a pair which resulted in the physio agreeing that I was good to go. It took some 6 hours as I recall for my medications to be prepared and finally, I left the hospital at approx. 6pm the day after my operation.
All in all, I am most grateful and appreciative of the care extended during my short stay at Wrightington. However, the compliance regulation is simply over the top, I wonder at what cost to the NHS (in my case, private). I would like to reiterate that I have no criticism of any of the staff except perhaps to say many seem to be constricted by the red tape nonsense that spoiled an otherwise excellent operational procedure at Wrightington hospital.