More MS news articles for April 2002

Cheryl sees how the other half live

IF ONLY the NHS matched up - Cheryl Court

April 1, 2002 13:25

A MULTIPLE sclerosis sufferer had a real eye-opener when she was treated to a stay on a private ward at Ipswich Hospital. Now she wishes the rest of the NHS measured up.

When no medics could be found with the skills to replace her catheter within an hour, Cheryl Court knew she would need an operation - but dreaded going back into hospital.

After 12 years of stays at Ipswich Hospital, the wheelchair-bound MS sufferer hated what she felt were dirty and busy NHS wards, where nurses did not have enough time to spend with patients.

But the eyes of the single mum widened in surprise at the staggering difference, when she was eventually admitted to a private ward - and now firmly believes all NHS facilities should measure up to that standard.

Her operation was initially cancelled because no bed was available for her - just as it had been in July 2000 when The Evening Star featured her plight about another cancelled operation.

But determined Cheryl, 36, of Inverness Road insisted on speaking to a manager, and eventually a free place was found for her on the private Bramford Ward.

She said the difference in conditions was startling, and came as great relief.

She said: "My stomach catheter had been difficult, and came out on Saturday night, but none of the district nurses, Suffolk Doctors on Call, the hospital staff, or the hospital doctor on call, felt they had enough experience to reinsert it.

"The clock was ticking because it had to be done within an hour or else the hole would close up and I'd have to go back into hospital for another operation. I volunteered to reinsert it myself, which would have been difficult, but I was strongly advised not to.

"Doctors do far more complicated and lifesaving things than re-inserting a catheter, but nobody could do it at the time.

"Then I was told there was no bed available on Tuesday when I was due to go in."

After asking to speak to a manager, Cheryl was phoned back by the hospital within half an hour and told she could go on to the private £280-a-night Bramford Ward without paying.

She said: "I had a single room, with a television and phone line. The nurses had time for me, and loved working there, and there was carpet on the floor.

"I know such luxuries would not be possible throughout the NHS, but it was so peaceful that I came home rested. My friend said she'd never seen me so relaxed. It was so much better than anything I've ever experienced, that I'd recommend anyone who can afford it, to pay to stay there."

A spokeswoman for the hospital said: "Bramford Ward is a huge asset to the hospital trust - money from fees charged to private health care insurers and individuals is used by the trust to improve services overall."