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"Ongoing lack of medical care and attention in ED"

About: Bunbury Hospital / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

A few weeks ago, I got an ambulance transfer from Busselton hospital to Bunbury hospital to get an MRI around the afternoon, and was meant to get transferred straight back to Busselton hospital (as I believe Bunbury had no beds, and no beds in the maternity ward), which was discussed with the doctors in Busselton and the doctor at the maternity ward in Bunbury. But after my MRI, I got wheel chaired to the ED section to be seen by a doctor as that’s what they said I needed to do, then I will get transferred back. I was with my parent, and my 4-day old baby. My parent met me at the MRI to look after my baby while I was getting it done.

Anyway we got to ED, we seen the triage nurse around an hour after my MRI to be told to sit on the blue chairs, but we sat on the red chairs away from everyone and it was really busy and didn’t want to sit next to anyone especially having a 4-day old baby, and the doctor will see us soon, as we will go back to Busselton. I felt the person on the admin desk yelled out to us and told us we needed to move and sit on the blue chairs. We thought they were talking to someone else, so we didn’t move then. They yelled out to us, not long after that and we moved to the blue chairs, away from everyone. I had my baby full wrapped from head to toe, so no germs were spread on them.

About 45 minutes later, my parent went up to the desk to ask for pain medication for me, as I was sitting on the chair crying in pain after having a caesarean a few days earlier and having my tubes tied. I felt this person was so rude and said that they can’t help us, and we have to wait until we see the doctors out the back. So my parent went over to the triage nurse window and explained that I was in pain and having a caesarean and tubes tied and haven’t had any pain medication since late afternoon in Busselton hospital by the midwife. The lovely nurse, went and got me some pain medication and did a set of observations on me. We didn't get seen by anyone until close to midnight, we were sitting in ED for that long. Then we got seen and put in a room (like a store room I felt, where there was stainless steel trolleys, and a trolley cabinet full of spare objects) and told us no one will come in this room. However, three different staff members walked in and out, then the doctor saying they will come back and see us 40 minutes later, no one. My parent went and seen someone about giving me medication as it's due in 15 mins. I believe they got told that they will be in. Didn't come in. Asked 4 times from another doctor for pain medication, they finally bought it in after midnight which was an hour and a bit late. I had to tell them what Busselton hospital were giving me.

They had me on a bed but I believe wasn’t a proper hospital bed, so had to find me a bed and wheeled it in and then told us they don’t have a bassinet for my baby and they need to sleep in the same bed as me. I told them I can’t have them sleep next to me, it’s not safe. They responded as I recalled, with, we don’t have any spare but we can see what we can find. Within 10 minutes they had a bassinet and brought it in for us. By this time it was after 1am the next morning. I asked them for some dinner as we hadn’t had anything, and they said, we have nothing, might have cheese and crackers. They went and looked and came with cheese and crackers. When they were sitting out to find me a bed and bassinet, I asked the nurse if I could go back to my parent's house as they have a cot and bed there for us and can be back early in the morning. They told me, as I recalled, no too much paperwork and you haven’t got discharged from Busselton hospital so they can’t let me go. I then told my parent that they can go home. They left close to 2am. An hour and a half later, the doctor from maternity ward came down to see me, and said they have a plan for medical specialists, surgeons and anaesthesiologist to see me first thing in the morning.

The morning came I walked out of my room and seen one of those staff members in the red gowns (the ones that clean the rooms I believe, wheel you around on your beds etc.) and I believe they were the one that was helping me with getting me a bed and bassinet for my baby and they couldn’t believe the room we got put in to, and the way we were treated especially coming out of surgery and having a 4-day old baby. And I asked them if they saw I was moving and if I was getting breakfast, it was the morning. They came back and helped me move into the ED short stay.

I was in a room straight in front of the desk, I asked if they could watch my baby while I went to the toilet, they told me I have to take them with me and I said no, they are asleep I will just leave them here, and then not getting seen by anyone by 4 hours later and they asked what has happened and walked away. Then getting told by the staff that a physio will come in 30 minutes, and still no one, the physio person didn’t come in as I believe they were too busy. So getting told I will be seen by all these people and not one person could come to see me. The physio was too busy, and then got told someone from medical will come to see me, that was around midday. I waited and waited and that time went past. I pushed my buzzer and asked for medication, to having to wait 40 minutes the first time and then in the afternoon when I pushed it, I pushed it 4 times asking, and they finally brought it to me 2 and half hours later. I asked if I could have a shower, I recalled they told me I have to take my baby with me as they don’t have time to watch them.

By mid-afternoon that day, I had enough as no one has come to visit me to give me answers, so I rang the bell and asked to get transferred back to Busselton or if I could get my partner to come pick me up, as it was such a waste of time of me being here. They told me I will have an ambulance transfer in the next half hour. I then had the doctor from the maternity ward come down and see me, they just apologised and said they don't know what's happening. And the person who did the anaesthesiologist the week before will ring me later the next week to see if everything is back to normal, if not then will refer me to someone else. So they left, an hour later, still no ambulance transfer but someone from the medical team came in and did some tapping on my knees and toes, then asked if I could feel them doing it and replied with yes. They then left. Another hour later, I rang my bell to see how far away the ambulance was, and the nurse said they don’t know, as it will be volunteer people coming. They then get a phone call at close to 5pm from the ambulance transfer people, I was on the phone talking to someone and the nurse just walks in and says, do you have a car seat for your baby? I replied no I don’t, they went back to the phone and told them that, and comes back and says, as I recalled, well how did you get here without a car seat and what did you bring here with you then? I replied and said I got an ambulance transfer from Busselton hospital late afternoon the day before and they had a car seat in there for my baby. I believe the nurse replied that they don’t supply car seats for baby this small, and walked off and didn’t come back in.

My ambulance transfer rocked up over half an hour after that. The nurse told me I need to be ready to go as they don’t like waiting and are super busy. I said I have been ready all day, just got to put a beanie on bub before we go and that’s it. When the ambulance drivers rocked up, I believe the nurse hadn’t done any of my paperwork and needed to do a set of observations on me, for me to get discharged. I then said to the ambulance drivers that I haven’t had an observation done on me all day, so why are they doing one now, then they replied that I need to have one done before I leave. 

So all these promises about medical, surgical, anaesthesiologist team coming to see me first thing in the morning to waiting around all day, to not having any answers. Being stuck in a short stay room with curtains with a 4-day old baby and not getting medication pretty much straight away after asking for them and waiting for 40 minutes or longer. 


Response from Ceri Elliott, A/Director of Nursing & Midwifery, Bunbury Hospital, WACHS South West last month
Ceri Elliott
A/Director of Nursing & Midwifery, Bunbury Hospital,
WACHS South West
Submitted on 15/09/2021 at 11:23
Published on Care Opinion at 11:23

Dear avocethd88,

Thank you for taking the time to share your recent experience at Bunbury Hospital. I sincerely apologise that what should have been a quick and easy stay with us, regrettably, resulted in a prolonged and frustrating experience for you and your family. We endeavour to provide person-centred care that is compassionate, kind and individualised to our patients’ needs. However, from what you have described in your story, on this occasion we have let you down and I am so sorry for the distress that this has caused.

I am very concerned to hear that you were left waiting for pain medication and I am very sorry for the discomfort you must have experienced as a result of these delays when you were recovering from surgery and a caesarean procedure. I am also very sorry that a member of staff suggested that you sleep with your baby in the bed. I would like to assure you that this is not an approach that we endorse or promote in our hospital. To ensure that this does not happen, I will be sharing your experience at the next Toolbox staff meeting so that staff are reminded about providing consistent messages about co-sleeping/bedsharing. I also genuinely apologise that you felt staff ‘yelled’ at you while you were waiting in the Emergency Department (ED). We expect all of our staff to be kind, courteous and compassionate in their interactions with patients and their families. I will also take the time to remind our ED staff of the important role they have in making patients and their families feel welcome and comfortable, particularly when they are feeling worried and vulnerable.

There are many concerning elements in your story that we would like to investigate further. With this in mind, I would be very grateful if you could contact me so that I can learn more about the details of what happened. My name is Ceri Elliot and I am currently working in the role of Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Bunbury Hospital. If you are happy to reach out and talk to me, please call me at a time of your convenience on 9722 1422.

I would like to take this opportunity to let you know if you ever feel you are not being listened to or helped when you or a loved one is receiving medical treatment in hospital, we have an avenue for you to raise your concerns. This process is known as CARE Call and it empowers patients and their loved ones to escalate any concerns they may have regarding their care to a senior member of the health service who will act to address your concerns. The person who receives your call will keep you updated as to what action has been taken. For example, they may contact the treating doctor or other members of the healthcare team to ensure you or the person you are concerned about is assessed and any necessary changes to the treatment plan are carried out. Please feel free to call the CARE call number - 1800 744 059 – which is operational across all Southwest hospitals.

Thank you very much for acknowledging the kind triage nurse. I am pleased that amongst many negative experiences, this was one that was more positive.

I do hope that you are settling in well at home with your newborn and would like to again thank you for taking the time to share your story with us at such a busy time in your life.

I would genuinely welcome a call from you and do hope that I hear from you soon.

Yours sincerely

Ceri Elliott

Acting Director of Nursing and Midwifery

Bunbury Hospital

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