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"Communications system"

About: New Cross Hospital / Accident and emergency West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust / Emergency ambulance

(as a relative),


At about 1330 one recent day my father-in-law called for an ambulance as his wife was apparently suffering a stroke. It took about 5 minutes to arrive and the medics were efficient, caring and kindly. Diagnosis was confirmed and the lady was taken to hospital at about 2 p.m. The ambulance crew took note of 2 primary contact numbers for the hospital to contact us. If nothing was heard they suggested we wait 2-3 hours before calling for an update. They gave a number to call.

So at 16:56 we rang and that's when your system(s) began to fall apart causing my father-in-law - in his 80s and poor health - plus his daughter (my wife) a great deal of stress and anxiety. The given number turned out to be A&E reception who did not have any information and said they would transfer the call to Re-Sus. This line was not picked up and was bounced back to reception several times. This was my wife making the call so I was present but not party to the actual conversation. I believe it was suggested that she rang a different number and this turned out to be unreachable. I asked my wife to put speakerphone on so that I could hear all that was said. This turned out to be almost nothing at all.

We were asked for the extension number which of course we didn't have, or hold. Each subsequent call either did not respond or timed out. We continued calling every 15 minutes without success. After a couple hours of this, in desperation my wife called an old friend who used to work at New Cross and she was given a different number to ring. From about 8 p.m. we dialled and redialled this number 20 times before it was finally answered at 8:23 p.m. Up until this our phone has registered 39 calls made to the hospital. Just 6 of these were answered and transfer attempted which failed or just cut off.

Thankfully, the ward nurse who answered this time was extremely helpful and understood our distress from having been given no information since their wife / mother had been admitted and frustration from the disgraceful state of the telecom system where it had taken 3⅟₃ hours to make a useful contact.

The opening statement on your website states "The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust is committed to providing high standards of care and service". My father-in-law, who has only recently been discharged from hospital, is in a high state of anxiety and is potentially another patient simply through the failure of this hospital to ensure a reasonable level of communications. Whilst we are sure that your clinical staff are undoubtedly doing their very best in these unusual times, the support system for family members who cannot be allowed to accompany or visit their sick relatives is sorely lacking in "..high standards of care and service". We dread to think what it is like for all those other people in the community who are unable to get information on a loved-one in hospital.

From the £billions invested in our NHS and the advanced state of communications technology it should be possible to provide something better than the apparently antiquated system currently employed which seems to me to have been inherited from the days of "Carry On Matron".


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Response from Christine Rock, Patient experience support officer., The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust nearly 2 years ago
Christine Rock
Patient experience support officer.,
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
Submitted on 04/12/2020 at 11:23
Published on Care Opinion at 11:23

Thank you very much for taking the time to post comments regarding your relative's recent experience.

I am sorry for any distress this matter has caused. To enable us to look further into your concerns, I would be grateful if you could contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01902 695362 or email who can assist further.

Kindest regards

Alison Dowling

Head of Patient Experience and Public Involvement

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Update posted by j0hn (a relative)

I already emailed and they responded yesterday with a similar pass-the-buck" answer. I will consider telephoning the number you have suggested but am not confident that will be any better than current experience with the system. Thanks for answering anyway.

Response from West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust 16 months ago
West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust
Submitted on 01/04/2021 at 09:34
Published on on 02/04/2021 at 21:53

Hi John, firstly, apologies for the delayed response and secondly, thank you for getting in touch, we're glad to hear our crews were efficient and caring when you needed us and we're very sorry to hear you had a negative experience. It sounds like your concerns may be best dealt with by the hospital concerned - sorry we couldn't be of more help with this. Thanks again John.

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