Assessing Bridlington Hospital

I have just read in the local paper that the assessors are looking at the status of various parts of Bridlington Hospital not in terms of the feelings of the local community but rather in terms of safety issues and so I am writing to tell you the story of my Grandmother and how the hospital situation in the East Riding impacted upon the last weeks of her life.

In 2006 my Grandma was 88 years old, still living in her own home and still happily able to walk the half mile to the local shops with her trolley and then walk home again. Unfortunately, early in 2006 she had a heart attack and was admitted to Bridlington Hospital's cardiac unit. In this clean and friendly unit she was well cared for by a team of efficient and conscientious staff, whilst the fact that she was in Bridlington meant that the various branches of her family could visit on a daily basis, as could her friends and neighbours, and that if she looked out of a window she was surrounded by familiar views and well tended gardens. All of this care and familiarity meant that she made good progress; so much so that she was allowed home. Unfortunately she was back in very soon as she had a worrying angina attack, but once again her recovery was good and it was decided that she would be a good candidate for an angioplasty and sent by ambulance to Hull Royal Infirmary where the operation was to take place. Once at Hull Grandma was placed on a large noisy ward on the 8 th floor tucked into a bed in the corner and mostly ignored. Her new location meant that a rota had to be arranged for visiting by the family and that her friends and neighbours could no longer get to see her as they were all elderly and not up to the trip to Hull. Also she was now in completely unfamiliar surroundings with, if she chose to walk the length of the ward to the window, no recognisable landmark or green space to look at; consequently she became lonely and depressed. Within a few days of being in Hull Grandma began to go downhill and the operation for which she'd been transferred was postponed. It was noticeable to her family that she'd begun losing weight and we began to take in food to try and remedy this. One of the roots of the problem became apparent when I was visiting and the nutritionist came to her bed; this lady was very pleasant but had such a strong West Indian accent that Grandma, who was also hard of hearing, could not understand a word and was too embarrassed and concerned about being accused of racism if she admitted this that she was just nodding along and so not actually getting food she liked or taking in any of the nutritionist's concerns. Days passed and even with us taking food in Grandma continued to decline and we were so far away that we couldn't just drop in to chivvy her along. Then one day her sons drove to Hull and found her in a side room on her own being barrier nursed but they weren't given any information as to why. It was only when my uncle's partner read her chart that we discovered that Grandma had picked up Clostridium Difficile. Her decline was rapid after that and on the 12th of February she died; unfortunately with only one son by her bedside as the other two were stuck on the ground floor as the lifts weren't working and they couldn't get up 8 flights of stairs fast enough. So from being a vibrant fit OAP who was at the heart of her family, Grandma was reduced to an infection-riddled, depressed old woman who didn't have the strength of body or will to fight the infection she'd picked up and we lost her. Ask anyone in our family and you will get the reply that the move to Hull was a major factor in the death of our Mother/Grandmother and the upshot is that short of being rushed in strapped unconscious to a stretcher not one of us would willingly be admitted there. This is very likely going to impact on our health as I have MS and have outpatients appointments there, but would not happily go there for intravenous steroid treatment when in relapse as I now feel the risk of infection is too great. Fortunately at the moment we have a very good GP ward I can attend in Bridlington hospital for this purpose. It is not however just Hull that poses the infection risk on a regular basis. We have friends who have come close to dying in Scarborough hospital through post operative MRSA infections, which means my Father's hip trouble is going untreated as he would neither risk Hull or Scarborough as places to have it operated on. Even logistically getting to Scarborough is nearly as tricky as getting to Hull, as the coast road is jammed in summer and often a very dangerous and slow if not impassable drive in winter.

So I am asking you to please understand that when people sign petitions to save services at Bridlington Hospital their concerns are intrinsically linked to safety, be it the infections that we believe are rampant in the 2 other hospitals that they are trying to divert us to, or the extra time it takes to travel to Hull or Scarborough, when minutes and seconds may be vital in saving a life. Even when it is a matter of ease of visiting or being in your own home town it can make a huge difference to recovery speeds, which can surely only be a good thing in monetary terms if nothing else.

My point with this letter is to say not only is it imperative to save the services at Bridlington Hospital but in a town this size, whose population expands hugely in season, it would make sense to expand them and turn this vital resource into a centre of excellence that can serve the local population here right on its own doorstep. It is after all the most modern of the 3 hospitals and should be funded and used to its full capability, thus ensuring that its patients know they are as safe and well looked after as they can possibly be.

Yours Faithfully.

Miss K. Daniels