A grandmother was so disgusted by the filthy conditions and neglect on a hospital ward that she bathed and cared for the patients herself.
Janet Halsall, 74, was admitted to Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, for three days to have a scan on her liver, when she was shocked to see staff repeatedly ignore pleas for help and leave fellow elderly patients to ‘fend for themselves’.
The kind-hearted pensioner was so appalled by the conditions in the hospital that she bathed, washed and tucked in the frail elderly patients herself.
The grandmother-of-seven said fellow patients were distressed after being left without water, and when she went to the pantry to clean their glasses, she found it in a ‘disgusting state’.When one elderly lady got no help after repeatedly complaining to staff she was cold, Mrs Halsall was moved to search a store cupboard for a blanket.
The former hairdresser even washed and bathed one lady who needed help to clean herself and took another pensioner to the toilet after staff continually ignored her requests because they were ‘too busy’.When she was discharged on Monday afternoon, her fellow patients cheered and clapped her - branding her their 'guardian angel'.
Speaking from her home in Little Staughton, Beds., she said: ‘I was absolutely disgusted when I entered the ward. ‘At 7pm I arrived in the ward and was appalled to find the bed was unmade and the water jug and glass were on the floor. ‘There was no locker or table to put my things on or bag to dispose of rubbish.
‘The patient in the next bed to me kept asking staff if she could go to the bathroom to have a wash and clean her teeth before breakfast. The reply was always “in a minute”. ‘She was really upset so I found her a bowl and washed her from head to toe and made her feel better. She was so grateful.‘Never before have I seen so many people rushing around, working so hard but achieving nothing.’ Mrs Halsall, whose partner Eric died five years ago, blames the shoddy treatment on a shortage of staff.
She added: ‘There simply weren't enough staff looking after the ward. People were asking for help and it was falling on deaf ears. ‘The poor nurse was running around and didn't have time to help everyone. I couldn't just sit there and watch so, being quite agile, I got up and helped them myself. ‘When I left the ward on Monday they all cheered me out and said I was their guardian angel.’ Mrs Halsall was referred to the Hinchingbrooke Hospital at around 11am on Friday amid fears she was suffering a liver complaint. She was told she could not have the scan until Monday and was later transferred to the Appletree Ward for the weekend. But within minutes of arriving, she became angry after spotting a number of patients who were not being cared for. Pensioner Joyce Bates, who was also on the Appletree Ward as she underwent physiotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis in her legs, hailed Janet a 'heroine'. Widower Mrs Bates, from March, Cambs., said: ‘I don't know what we would have done without Janet. The place was an absolute disgrace and our treatment was even worse. ‘I've stayed in hospital 38 times and I've never watched as a patient is forced to give another a bed bath because the nurses won't.‘She truly was magnificent in what was a nightmare situation.’
Director of the Patients Association Katherine Murphy said: ‘Unfortunately we hear far too many examples of the kinds of things described by Janet Halsall.‘It is completely unacceptable for patients not to be treated with dignity and respect and not to receive the help they need with things like personal hygiene. ‘That should be fundamental to NHS care-whenever it's not it's an appalling indictment of our treatment of some of the most vulnerable users of our health services.’ A spokesman for Hinchingbrooke said: ‘Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust takes all complaints extremely seriously.‘We would ask Mrs Halsall to contact us directly so that a full investigation can be conducted into her experience on the ward.‘Until we can look into these incidents in more detail it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.’