Patient had to dial 999 from hospital bed after nurse 'silenced vital kit'
A former NHS worker claims she was forced to call 999 from her hospital bed after a nurse allegedly silenced her heart monitor.
Ava Stanley, who suffers from heart problems, was admitted to Medway Maritime Hospital, in Gillingham, Kent with chest pains and initially had to sleep in a wheel chair due to a lack of available beds.
At 3am the former NHS medical secretary was finally offered a bed, but, she says, her daughter had to beg for a sheet.
Mrs Stanley, from Higham, Kent was hooked up to a heart monitor, but when it beeped to indicate an erratic rhythm a nurse came into her room and turned it off.
The 63-year-old turned her monitor on again, checked her symptoms on Google, realised it could be serious and phone 999.
Eventually an on-call doctor was called.
Mrs Stanley said she felt like she was on a ‘DIY ward’ and that she had to ‘fend’ for herself.
Medway Maritime Hospital said it has arranged to meet her to discuss the care she received.
Mrs Stanley was admitted to the hospital on September 4.
When she saw a specialist on arrival she told them the chest pains she was experiencing were similar to those she’d felt after her cardiologist last performed an angiogram – a type of X-ray used to examine blood vessels. This had lead to her receiving complex heart stent surgery in 2021.
The doctor agreed to admit her, but she was shocked by varies problems that then ensued, from a lack of bed, a sheet and initially no where to plug her sleep apnoea machine in.
She added: ‘There were buzzers sounding being left unanswered. I was left in pain and in limbo as no information was being given to me and I realised I would need to be pro-active.’
When she did get a bed, another patient’s name was left above it until the following day.
It was at around 10pm her heat monitor started beeping.
‘It showed my heart had gone into an erratic rhythm, going up and down rapidly then reading zero momentarily,’ she said.
‘After about 10 minutes of being unanswered, the monitor would reset itself and start again.
‘This happened four times across 40 minutes and when the ward nurse did eventually come to my bed she just silenced the monitor.
‘I turned the machine on again and it alerted twice more but still went unchecked.
‘My heart monitor was sounding and flashing to alert asystole.
‘I didn’t know what this was but I was fearful for my life as my heart had been stopping according to the monitor.’
Frightened, Mrs Stanley Googled what ‘alert asystole’ meant and, reading that it was serious, she dialled 999.
She said: ‘I gave the call handler all my details and told her I was fearing for my life because of what the monitor had been alerting and thought I was going to die.
‘The call handler asked if I needed a medic to attend and whether I wanted to be safeguarded, to which I replied I did.’
The nurse tried to take her blood and performed an ECG before contacting an on-call doctor, she said.
After being seen by the doctor, Mrs Stanley was immediately taken down to the cardiology ward.
She was finally discharged from the hospital on September 10 after undergoing another angiogram.
Mrs Stanley said it’s important people understand how far her former employer’s standards have fallen.
She added: ‘Since Covid there has been a significant amount of change in the level of care.
‘You are at the mercy of the hospital staff. You expect them to do the best for you but this just highlights that you have to be proactive in your care in order to survive.
‘I have had to learn to find my own solutions to health issues and to navigate the new NHS system in order to get what I need.
‘I really, really thought there was a possibility that I wouldn’t make it.
‘I feel that people needed to know about my story and to realise just how bad things had become.’
Medway hospital a meeting has been arranged between Mrs Stanley and the hospital’s chief executive, Jayne Black.
Ms Black said: ‘We are very sorry if Ms Stanley feels the standard of care given during her visit was not to the high level that we would expect, and we apologise for any distress that may have been caused.
‘Our senior nursing staff remain in close contact with her and we will be investigating any concerns that she raises, making sure to feed back the findings with her as soon as we can.’
Last week it was revealed the number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen to a new record high.
An estimated 7.68 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of July, up from 7.57 million in June, NHS England said.
It is the highest number since records began in August 2007.
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