A BUILDER who called for drastic changes at a “hell hole” hospital ward claims it has been transformed into the Ritz in just six months.

Dave Bushell, 64, spent 16 days in Basildon Hospital in February for a routine bowel operation.

He lodged a formal complaint against the hospital after suffering a catalogue of problems on Kingswood ward, which specialises in caring for patients after surgery.

Mr Bushell, of Villiers Way, Thundersley, claimed it took nurses 40 minutes to respond when patients pressed buzzers and his hospital notes were lost.

His catheter tube also became blocked during the hospital stay, leading to an infection, and his stomach ballooned in size because of fluid building up inside him.

The hospital promised drastic changes would be made in the wake of Mr Bushell’s complaint, but he never expected Kingswood ward to be turned around in just six months.

Mr Bushell was terrified of returning for a follow-up operation last weekend, but was delighted with the treatment he received.

He said: “It really has gone from hell to the Ritz. Kingswood ward is absolutely five star now and if anybody is worrying about going into hospital, they really don’t need to. To say I was scared about going back is an understatement.

“It’s so lovely there, you wouldn’t believe it’s the same hospital I was in six months ago.

“Before, the staff just didn’t want to do anything to help, but now the nurses are always singing and it helps create a happy environment for the patients. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed it doesn’t go back to how it was.”

Mr Bushell puts the big changes down to one man.

Qualified nurse David Young took over Kingswood in April and was soon joined by deputy Michelle Webb.

At the time the ward relied heavily on agency nurses and morale was low.

Diane Sarkar, director of nursing, said: “We faced significant challenges on Kingswood ward with a high turnover of staff and patient care not meeting high standards. We put a major plan in place to remedy this, and clear improvements have been made.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, and we continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that all our patients receive excellent care.”