St Austell family: 'NHS has totally let us down'
THE daughter of a pensioner kept waiting for surgery on a hospital ward for almost 12 weeks says the NHS has "totally let my father down".
Gordon Tift, 69, walked on to Wheal Coates Ward at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro three months ago to undergo surgery to remove blockages in his heart and an angioplasty on his legs and groin. Now the family has been told that his body is too weak for surgery to be possible, and the only option may be hospice care.
His daughter Deborah, aged 40, of Gilbert Close in St Austell, has now contacted the Cornish Guardian about his plight, saying she does not want another family to suffer the same anguish.
Ulcers, caused by blocked arteries, were first spotted when Mr Tift was on an extended holiday to Turkey.
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Part of his scheduled surgery, on a leg, was performed but the operation on his heart, which was to have been carried out on July 31, never took place.
"We were told the heart surgery was needed urgently and we thought they'd concentrate on this first but they haven't," said Miss Tift.
"My father's sat there for nearly 12 weeks hoping each day that the operation will take place."
She said while her father had been in hospital she had seen his health deteriorate and blamed a catalogue of failings by the hospital, which she said has only seen his basic needs being met.
Miss Tift said her father had been "slumped night and day in a day chair and never had a bed other than to go to theatre", which had caused pressure sores: "Although it was too painful for him to sleep in a bed they've never provided a specialist chair until now."
She has also alleged a lack of hygiene, which she said had seen her father's urine-soaked clothes left lying on a windowsill.
"He's been encouraged to pee into a little cardboard tube and then given his meals without washing his hands, and he's been left with his private parts hanging out because the gown's too short to cover his dignity," said Miss Tift.
Worst of all, she said, the hospital had admitted that her father had suffered kidney damage after receiving an overdose of morphine, and had also contracted an E. coli infection.
Last weekend he was transferred to Penrice Community Hospital, but when the family arrived they learnt he had taken a turn for the worse and been rushed back as an emergency to the Royal Cornwall Hospital, where he was left for hours in medical admissions without seeing a doctor, despite previously having been in isolation for viruses.
Her father is now being cared for on Wheal Prosper ward and the family says his care has improved markedly.
Miss Tift said she had complained to the hospital through its Patient Advice and Liaison Service, "but it's too late.
"I've watched my father go from a happy-go-lucky guy who loved life, and that's how he walked into that hospital, hoping for the best, and there's now a good possibility he may never walk out of there again.
"In that environment I've seen a deterioration, and that's what hurts; it really hurts. The patients are human beings, at the end of the day, and whether you're 6 or 69 a good level of care should be provided for all."
Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust nurse executive Andrew MacCallum said it took any concerns about patient care very seriously and would carry out a full review of Mr Tift's care and treatment.
However, the hospital has refused to comment publicly on Mr Tift's care, citing rules on patient confidentially.
"Miss Tift has said she is content with her father's care currently and I will be happy to talk with her personally," said Mr MacCallum.
Miss Tift is due to attend a meeting this week with the staff members involved in her father's care.