Chorus of complaints over James Paget Hospital

AN angry wife has joined the chorus of complaints about care at Gorleston’s James Paget University Hospital – just as the area’s MPs highlight the issue.

Gloria Solomon has pledged never again to put her terminally ill husband Nick through the ordeal of being on a general ward where she claims staff were unsure of even the basics – whether he had eaten, had a drink or had his medication.

At times the 56-year-old lay for hours in soiled sheets, unable to reach his buzzer.

Mrs Solomon said notes were either lost or illegible and that staff were often unaware of her husband’s complex needs, or even that he was visually impaired by brain tumours pressing on his optic nerve.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said the story was typical of the dozen or so letters he had received since Christmas, alerting him to a possible problem.

Meanwhile the hospital has responded with a “speak to us” poster campaign urging people to raise their concerns with the matron or ward sister, instead of taking them home to fester and grow.

Mr Lewis said he had written directly to the hospital and also made a joint approach with MPs Peter Aldous and Therese Coffey who represent Waveney and Suffolk Coastal and were also concerned.

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“I appreciate some NHS staff are working flat out for every patient but we need to get to the bottom of it and deal with it quickly,” Mr Lewis said, adding that he was also asking about 52 unfilled nursing vacancies which could be having an effect on patient care.

“In my four or five years as a candidate and now an MP I have had no complaints, and now in the last three months I have had around a dozen approaches to me from residents querying some of the care they or their friends and relatives have received.”

Mr Solomon, a former Army officer turned self-employed plumber, was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago, which has since spread to his liver and brain.

Less than a year ago, the defiant smoker was embarking on a 400-mile cycle ride, camping overnight on the way, as a charity and personal challenge, enjoying his bounce-back from serious illness.

Since then, however, he had succumbed to the fast-spreading small-cell cancer and added heart failure, epilepsy and diabetes to his list of problems.

Although cared for at home with the help of Marie Curie and Macmillan Nurses, at times hospital treatment has been the only option for dehydration and bed sores.

Mrs Solomon, who gave up her job at Asda to care for her husband, said that for a man who had lived a full and useful life, it was an undignified decline that only added to the family’s anguish.

The couple, who have recently become grandparents and share a love of folk music and rugby, hope to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary next month.

Although her husband, a smoker for 40 years, had taken cancer “on the chin” he didn’t deserve to be plonked on a bed with everything on show and shunted about from bay to bay, she added.

“He cannot fend for himself or speak up. I feel very let down. It is appalling the way they treat people. There is no respect and no dignity.

“He is only 56 and he has a lot wrong with him. You expect to get food and you expect to get drinks in hospital.

“Our GP at Park Surgery is fantastic. He comes to visit him every week even though he doesn’t have to. But you get him into a place where you expect him to be looked after. It’s really disappointing.

“There is no need to treat people like that.”