December 5 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
A woman who nearly died in a Norfolk hospital from a freak complication from a gastric band has claimed that staffing levels meant she did not receive appropriate treatment – until her husband threatened to discharge her.
Jo Rust alleges she was only seen by a gastroenterology team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for what later transpired to be a gangrenous stomach when her husband, Marcus, said: “You are not caring for her properly.”
However, hospital bosses have denied the claims, saying she was seen by the appropriate medical teams and given the appropriate treatment.
The mother-of-two, who as secretary of the King’s Lynn and District Trades Council is leading campaigns against cuts to the NHS, was taken ill after collapsing on a work visit to Dereham on January 29 this year.
It later transpired that the 47-year-old was only hours from death because her stomach had become caught in a gastric band she had fitted five years ago to help her lose weight.
As a result, she needed an emergency operation to remove 90pc of her stomach. Without it, she might have died within hours.
But when she was first admitted to the hospital, Mrs Rust said nurses failed to spot the problem and thought she had simply eaten more than her stomach could take, as a gastric band restricts the amount of food a person can consume.
She believed that was because the general ward was understaffed and that nurses did not have enough time to look deeper into the problem.
Mrs Rust, who is also secretary of North West Norfolk Constituency Labour Party, said she was later seen by the specialist team and got the operation she required – but only when her husband spoke up.
Yet despite her criticisms, Mrs Rust added: “The individual people are not to blame. The buck stops with Government. How can you blame individuals when they have got all that responsibility? It is the fault of government target-setters at the top.”
During her stay on the general ward, Mrs Rust said she counted one nurse to 16 patients during the day and one nurse to 18 patients at night.
On one occasion, she claimed workers did not have enough time to give her the medication she needed until after midnight and said she was left alone in a bathroom because no one was available to help her.
Emma McKay, the hospital’s director of nursing, said the hospital had reviewed Mrs Rust’s care and believed that she was seen by the appropriate medical teams and given the appropriate treatment.
She said: “The wards concerned were fully staffed at the time, which is eight staff during the day and between four and five at night, depending on the type of patients and the staff skill mix.
She added that the hospital was aware Mrs Rust was concerned about staffing levels in the NHS and would be happy to investigate the circumstances further and reply to her concerns.
Mrs Rust has since gone on to make a full recovery, even though losing 90pc of her stomach means she no longer feels hunger and needs an alarm to remind her when to eat.
She also has to eat smaller, and more regular, meals.