My wife was admitted into hospital on 24th October 2021 with a seizure followed by a cardiac arrest. I was allowed to see her until 31st October, which was the first day when she was not sedated. On that visit, she was very pleased to see me. We both told each other that we loved each other, she said HELP ME and wrote this down on her hospital board. She also accused the nurse of trying to poison her and so she was obviously quite confused.
My wife has many mental health problems including:-
a. PTSD (diagnosed as a problem from childhood)
b. Night Terrors
c. Racing Brain
g. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ ME
Apart from these problems she also has:-
i. Sleep Apnoea
j. Underactive Thyroid
l. Agrophobia (not diagnosed)
After a discussion with one of the consultants in an ITU department, he decided that due to her complicated mental health conditions, it would be useful if I was allowed to visit and so I did visit her for four days. For 3 days, she was totally sedated and partly relying on breathing from a drip.
On day 4 (31st October), she was not relying on extra oxygen through a drip in the mouth and was not sedated. She was able to talk with me, move all parts of her body and was gripping my hand hard. She told me that she loved me, I did the same but she then looked a bit frightened and said “HELP ME” and wrote this down on her hospital board in pen. This conversation was only with me not with anyone else in the ward. She then accused her nurse of poisoning her. Her nurse then told me that she was psychotic which I thought was unprofessional. On leaving the ward I spoke to one of the nurses in charge and asked her to not have this nurse attending my wife as he was obviously worrying her.
The 31st October was the last day I saw her or heard how she was. The next few days were a nightmare as I kept on getting the same answer to how my wife was. “We can’t tell you” and when I asked why, the usual reply was that my wife didn’t want anyone (not just me) to visit and didn’t want anyone to know what was going on. This is really not usual for my wife and I was starting to think something had gone seriously wrong.
On Saturday 6th November, one of the consultants from ITU Recovery Ward asked if I could bring in her cPap machine but did not tell me anything about her health. He did, however, make a cryptic remark about the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act. He wouldn’t tell me why or explain his comment. As I was about to get into my car to drive to the hospital with the cPap machine, a card and an OK Magazine, which I know she likes, and on the drive there was a policeman called Andy. I was expecting him to tell me that I had done something wrong but instead, he asked me “How are you Mr …?” to which I said “To be honest, I am frustrated, distressed, depressed and heartbroken as I have not been able to see or hear anything about my wife”. Andy did not ask anymore; he could see I was really upset. Apparently, one or maybe more of the nurses from the hospital had said that I was being irate with them. I told the policeman that I would not call it irate but how I had described my feelings to him.
This visit by the police started off a safeguarding investigation by medical staff in the ward. What spouse wouldn’t be feeling a mix of emotions about being denied any form of contact and that included her phone and tablet being removed from her on 1st november - I now know this date to be correct as her WhatsApp said that she had not been seen since 1st November. The story from the hospital was that she didn’t want her phone or her tablet at the moment. That does not make any sense at all; she is always using her phone and tablet to keep in touch with her friends. She has had many problems and quite a few visits into Hospital in the past 4 or 5 years, she had been housebound for over 3 years except for three visits to the dentist, when due to her 2 strokes, she had fallen at the front doorstep twice and I had to pick her up to take her by wheelchair and get her in the car and somehow I managed to get her to the dentist without any further mishaps. That’s not quite true as on one of the occasions, she fell over the front doorstep and there was blood everywhere on the doorstep and one of the next-door neighbours overreacted and phoned for an ambulance. She had had all her top teeth out and a dental plate fitted and there was blood from her taken out teeth. Luckily, a more sensible neighbour realised and listened to her and myself and helped me get her safely onto a commode. I don’t even know if the hospital staff are helping her fit her dental plate and sterilise it every day at night time; she takes pride to look as good as she can and does not like talking to people without it in and it is difficult to understand her sometimes without the plate in.
That same evening (6th November), I spoke to a nurse and asked how my wife was and she said gruffly you have already spoken to the consultant this morning (he hadn’t told me anything) so you don’t need to know anything more to that and anyway I’ve got other patients to deal with and I said “what happens if she gets worse, will I hear anything?” she said NO. I was continuing to get the same responses from all the nurses – no consultant has spoken to me directly since 6th November despite asking to speak to one on several occasions. I have complained to the PALS team at the hospital although they have not helped me at all and not even tried to organise a Skype or WhatsApp video call – there have been 3 excuses given; one was that my wife didn’t want any contact with anyone, COVID and the other one was that there was a safeguarding investigation going on which my wife had not instigated. I discovered the latter from a nurse (I think that I should have been at least informed that one had started and when and why it had started) and she said that a medical and legal team would be involved and that they would have to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. I did comment that this would take forever and shouldn’t my wife and I be involved more directly?
I have complained about the lack of information about my wife’s health and what and why the safeguarding process is about to my local councillor, to the local MP which was then redirected to the office of the local Senedd Member. The complaint was handled by a Case Handler and finally I have complained to the local Health Board and Chief Executive of the hospital and I have had no help here at all and are just backing the decision of the ward where my wife is now staying, which is a vascular ward which is the correct ward for dealing with her seizure, cardiac arrest and a possible further stroke which could be fatal to my wife but is not a suitable ward for her mental health problems. She has been on some very strong medications for her mental health problems for many years and I now have received a confidential source which has confirmed that a psychiatrist is now involved which can only mean that her state of mind is not quite right. This also contradicts the ward saying i.e. they are lying that she was sound of mind when she said that she does not want any communications with anyone or anyone to know what is going on – she is obviously very unwell and in my opinion it is even possible that she could potentially pass away. This is really heartbreaking for me – I can only slightly imagine what it is doing to her.
The Ward don’t even call her by her preferred name – they call her by her first name which she does not want to be called by. I think that this is insensitive not using her preferred name and is probably confusing her.
I decided to get my solicitor involved. and there were a few questions posed by my solicitor and these were sent via email and post on Tuesday 23rd November to the hospital and the local health board:-
• Has his wife’s capacity been assessed?
• Is she aware of the safeguarding investigation? We understand that it has not been instigated by his wife herself.
• In view of the fact that our client has been advised that if he attends hospital premises either hospital security or the police will be called, can he deliver a card and gift for his wife on her birthday, which is on 7 December, to the PALS Team? (This is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN as one of the nurses said).
• Can he be given more information regarding the process of the safeguarding investigation? He is being kept in the dark and this is very worrying for him. (I now know that I am not the subject of the investigation but it took the hospital a month to inform me of that, nor is my wife’s COVID vaccination status)
• Can he be reassured that his wife is aware that our client has been trying to keep in contact with her? He does not want his wife to feel she has been abandoned.
• Can he be informed whether his wife has received the cards and letters which have been sent to her and has she been able to read her messages on WhatsApp? (I know that up to now she has not been able to read one message as they have taken away her phone)
• Has his wife been allocated an advocate to speak on her behalf?
None of these questions have been answered yet except for part of the question of what the safeguarding investigation is about which I found out myself by talking to one of the nurses. I was particularly concerned that my wife had not been given her booster jab having received her 2nd Jab in April and as we now know there is the Omicron COVID strain and she is classed as critically clinically vulnerable. This is not a political game that is being played – it is my wife’s life that we are talking about. One of the medications she had been on for quite a time was Quetiapine and she had been receiving a dose of 900 mg for quite a while and it was over the recommended maximum dose of 800 mg according to NICE guidelines. Overdose of this drug commonly can lead to a seizure and that is precisely what she had on 24th October. This complaint must be sorted out now asap before she becomes too ill.
It seems that the hospital and the local Health Board are above the law and if there is something being covered up then they need to be held to account. It’s only reasonable that they should talk to me in a courteous manner to let me know what’s going on. If there is medical negligence going on, then it needs to be exposed. I feel that they are breaking the law especially the Human Rights Act Article 8 for the right to be a family. I am worried of her remaining in hospital for a lot longer as it is almost certainly not in her interests to remain there just for the sake of a safeguarding investigation – at least there should by now be a proper treatment plan, physio and rehabilitation being carried out so that I can help her if she returns home. She will need a decent healthcare package to give her the best chance to recover from her strokes (2), seizures (2), diagnoses for Sleep Apnoea in 2019 (it took 3 visits to the Hospital to finally be sent home with a cPap machine) and of course, recently her cardiac arrest.
My wife and I promised to each other that we would look after each other as well as possible and NOT to send the other one into care – please respect our wishes and provide a care package which will be manageable for us at home.
I am really worried how my wife is feeling on her own in the Ward which is hardly the place to recover from all these terrible life-threatening medical illnesses.
It doesn’t help that the hospital has not answered my solicitor’s letter – in the meantime we have no idea how she is, how she is feeling inside, probably having some frightening night terrors, due to whatever treatment she is being given - this cannot be helping her PTSD which I would imagine is crucial to how her mental health problems are handled in the future.
I have watched my wife put on weight from around 14 stone which is a bit heavy for her height (5 ft 6 inches) over 7 years to over 22 stone earlier this year. I really blame the medications that she has been prescribed (I know that quite a few of them are likely to be weight gainers (antidepressants, Pregabalin and Quetiapine) which do not help her recovery) and I am sure that she will be suffering some horrendous withdrawal symptoms due to the changes in medications that the hospital will be administering to her. This is also very inhumane not including or trying to include her husband anywhere in the process as I could give her emotional support (which the hospital could never give her) just like I ever have when I first met her in 2014.
I have had to suffer a lot of emotional abuse e.g. slamming down the phone several times, telling me that no one will tell me if she is getting worse, saying that there’s no way that they will grant me a visit or a video call on her birthday on 7th December which is also the 7th anniversary of when I proposed to her, and there was even one nurse saying “Personally, I find it very unfair of you consistently contacting the ward” from the medical staff in the last 8 weeks without even knowing if there is a proper treatment plan. I am her husband so I am naturally concerned and it would not be normal behaviour if I wasn’t.
I know the hospital’s priority has to be my wife, but it will be her husband who will be providing the support when she comes home - they really could try and act in her interests and I really don’t think that denial of contact with anyone and especially her next of kin will be in her long term interest. Contact and I mean a proper visit (not virtual) needs to be set up before she is released out of hospital.
The PALS team made it quite clear in their email that they would try to arrange Skype or WhatsApp video calls and by taking her phone and tablet away how can that even happen? She could be watching TV at the moment off her tablet or through a TV provided by the Ward which she loves and would take away the absolute boredom and loneliness that she will be suffering in the Ward now.
The Ward have never made it clear what the end aim of this investigation is and my wife and I both need to know before the final decision has been taken out of our hands.
If there is something dodgy going on then what the staff are doing is committing a crime. I have already put in a complaint to the Police and they said they would look into it and they sent in a policeman on Saturday 4th December into the ward to see what was really going on and they just said she looked OK – did he even talk to my wife telling her that her husband was missing her. The policeman hardly gave me any time for me to say anything. He did, however, manage to report back that the Ward said that I was harassing them. The policeman warned me not to contact the ward. I have not been contacting the ward at all since after I received an email from the Board threatening me that if I was to set foot on hospital premises that I would be escorted off the hospital premises by security or the police, except to ask if I could have some form of contact with my wife on her birthday and 7th anniversary of my proposing to her. I hope that you take this complaint more seriously because the Board have displayed bullying behaviour towards me. Justice must be done and I have a right to be treated with respect which the hospital are not doing.
Not a moment can be lost because my wife could be much more ill the longer she is kept in the hospital and removed from people who actually care about her. She suffers from anxiety, depression, racing brain, PTSD etc., and this will be sending her anxiety through the roof. She has already had mental problems since her early 20s – is she going through another one? If much more time is spent keeping her in hospital and not in a friendly homely environment the hospital may be endangering her life.
In her latest Carers handling plan there were some interesting comments
- I came to … to stay for 5 months and … and have been happily married ever since.
- I have a medical condition or mental health illness that may affect my mood, confusion, memory or ability to concentrate and make my own decisions.
- I have a mental health illness that may affect my mood.
- My memory, mood, concentration and understanding do not affect my ability to make my own decisions.
- Always include me in making decisions, offering me clear and simple choices and REMIND me of the choices I have made.
I am so heartbroken and frustrated with the way this whole situation has been handled. I am disgusted at the lack of respect and sensitivity I have been shown by the Hospital and the local Health Board and I am really worried about my wife’s mental and physical health. I should have been kept in the loop and somehow the Hospital and Board seem to be above the law and I am being threatened by the Hospital, Board and now even the police are warning me – what has happened to compassion in this crazy COVID19 world? This would almost certainly not have happened if there was not a ban on visiting in some hospitals? All I want is to help my wife through this very dangerous time for her. I am her husband and do not seem to have any rights at all. All I am asking is now to hear how my wife is, what treatment they are giving her and when is this nightmare of an investigation likely to end which I am not even the subject of. I have not even once been informed of the Safeguarding Investigation procedure and what stage they are at now.
I think that I could even help the Hospital in their investigation if they just asked. I and at least 2 friends of hers and her siblings know the reason for her PTSD which may well be giving her some terrible night terrors which will be ruining her health and maybe giving her ME relapses. Is no one allowed to know what is going on at all – the medical staff could be doing what they want and no one would be able to stop whatever they are doing to her. I am now being emotionally abused by a few nurses who do not know how to talk to the patient’s next of kin in a compassionate way. This has been the worst 2 months of my life and I don’t know how much longer this nightmare is going to last.
On Christmas day, I was also refused any communication with my wife and that is a time when families should be together. The hospital just seems to be ruining my marriage and it was a very good marriage before she went into hospital on 24th October. You can ask any of her friends.
I have had to employ a solicitor to try and get some communication and even the solicitor does not seem to be able to find out anything – why? I believe that I am owed an apology at the very least and some compensation for all the stress that the Hospital and Board have caused me – I am only trying to be the best husband I can but do the Hospital and the Board really have her best interests at heart?
I have found since that my wife should be entitled to an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) so that she can express her true wishes and also a Second Opinion Approved Doctor if she is not happy about the treatment she has been receiving. We don’t really know what my wife’s true wishes are for her future and this can only be done if an IMHA is appointed.
This email has been based on a real complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman. I can also state that I was listening in to a neighbour talking to the ward just after my wife’s birthday, where my wife was and asking them if my wife could speak with her. The answer was “she is immobilised and has been bedbound for ages”. That’s an absolute disgrace as she had been in hospital for nearly 7 weeks by then.
I have put out this very sad real life story, which still has not been resolved, as my wife is still in the hospital, onto this forum in the hope that someone who knows enough about the Mental Health/Capacity Acts, Social Services Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 and the Care Act 2014 can try and explain how I can get my wife back home and communication lines can be restored between husband and wife. It is another example of how Mental Health Patients can be abused and in this case, it is also the husband/carer who has also been emotionally abused. The safeguarding investigation team are here at fault as they are refusing any attempt to reopen communication channels. Why?