"5 hour wait for a child with head injury"

About: Sheffield Children's Hospital / Paediatrics

(as the patient),

I took my son to hospital on the advice of NHS direct after my 6 year old son suffered a head injury at school 2 weeks ago. He was sent home from school with nothing more than the usual bump note so I wasn't too worried as this is a regular occurance with my son due to his autism. he was complaining of headache from the minute he was dropped off from school but seemed ok after an hour or so.

At about 7pm he started complaining that his head was hurting again and then proceeded to start being sick repeatedly. Needless to say I was very worried by this point because he was very dozy and not making much sense. I called NHS Direct for their advice and they told me to get him to the Childrens Hospital in Sheffield immediately - which I did.

I reached the hospital at about 9pm and he was seen pretty much straight away by the triage nurse which suprised me as they were quite busy. She then took us to a differant part of the hospital and told us to wait in the waiting room for a doctor and was told not to let my son go to sleep until a doctor had seen him.

To cut a very long story short- it was 2.10am before anyone came to see my son and by which point he had fallen asleep, I was very tired and angry because both myself and my husband had to be at work at 5am and had also left my mother at home with our other 2 children.

I appreciate that the hospital was busy and that sometimes a long wait is un-avoidable but to leave a 6 year old autistic boy with a head injury sat waiting for nearly 5 hours is absolutely disgusting.

No-one came to check if he was ok or to tell us what was happening and I had to keep pestering the nurses to give me some idea of how long it was going to be before my son would be seen, only to be told that there was only 1 doctor avaliable for the whole of the hospital that night!!!!!!

I have to say though, that when we eventually did see the doctor she was very apologetic and suggested I make a complaint. Luckily, my son was well enough to go home by this point, she said he had probably burst a small vessel in his head which had caused all the problems but because he hadn't been sick while he was at hospital, they were happy for him to go home.

I can only wonder though, what if it had been more serious?

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Response from 17 years ago
Submitted on 26/07/2006 at 17:24

I'm sorry you had such a long wait. Our stats show that mostly this does not happen but clearly you and your son did have to wait a long time to be seen - and I'm sorry about this.

In general patients are assessed on initial arrival to determine their clinical priority as we obviously try and make sure that the most seriously ill or injured are seen first. At certain times of the day, particularly in the late evening, the department is at its busiest.

During these periods we know that waiting times do increase. We are currently reviewing our rotas for August with the aim of to increasing the number of doctors available in the early hours of the morning and hope that this will reduce waiting times during this period.

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