Ahmad’s complaint

“I am a Pakistani man who does not speak English. I contacted VoiceAbility through an interpreter because I was having problems since being admitted to hospital.

I am an insulin dependent diabetic and following my hospital admission I encountered problems with staff over my care and treatment. Instances occurred with the timing of the insulin in relation to my food intake where, after trying to communicate unsuccessfully with staff regarding this, it resulted in me becoming very frustrated. A doctor was then called to the ward as I could only speak with the consultant who spoke Punjabi. I requested the support of an advocate for my conversation with the consultant. I then was able to explain that I had desperately tried to signal to staff when I needed insulin and was repeatedly told “In a minute”, which caused my anxiety as I felt that my life was hanging in the balance and this did not seem to matter to staff.

The advocate with the help of the doctor tried to establish if it was a translation problem that the staff were having in relation to not being able to understand me. Unfortunately though, the staff confirmed that when I signalled to them about my medication they all understood this but were too busy dealing with other difficult patients at these times. During the meeting the staff apologised and asked me to continue to let them know when I needed medication and they would respond to this better.

The very next day this promise was broken as I had the same problems and it seemed that the message was not even handed over to the other staff members. So I continued to struggle to keep my diabetes under control and this resulted in me being admitted to another ward.

When I returned to the acute ward things did not improve. As a Muslim I was affronted to be given chicken curry on one occasion and tuna on another occasion. Staff claimed to not know that I was not only a vegetarian but that this was offensive to my religion. During my stay I reported all of these problems to the ward manager with the support of my advocate and a translator, to try to work these issues out.

These issues and a member of staff administering an incorrect dosage resulted in me finally being transferred to another ward when my faith in this one had completely broken down. During my stay on this new ward I did not encounter any mistreatment, had no language barriers and worked well with staff prompting them about my diabetes medication.

I did not want others to experience such poor standards of care or cultural misunderstandings, so I appreciated the support of my advocate with writing a formal complaint about my stay on the acute ward. A meeting was held with the deputy ward manager of the acute ward, the pharmacist and myself. However, this did not result in the resolutions I was seeking, including staff training and improved practices, so I am now considering taking this to Stage 2 with the Ombudsman.”


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