"Bad A&E and great Treetops children's ward"

About: University Hospital Of North Durham / Accident and emergency University Hospital Of North Durham / Paediatrics

(as a parent/guardian),

Last Friday afternoon, I had to attend the A&E department at Durham hospital with my 12 year old daughter who had come off her bike whilst we were on a cycling holiday. She had grazes, wounds and bruises all down her left side (which I had tried to vaguely clean on the road side) and she had also sustained a head injury which was bad enough to break a large chunk out of her cycle helmet. During the long journey from the incident site to the hospital it had been a real struggle to keep my daughter "awake" and it was gradually becoming harder to rouse her each time she closed her eyes.

When we arrived at the hospital she had no idea why we were there or what had happened. The receptionist took our details and told us to sit down. We sat there for an hour before we were seen by anyone. When we were seen by a nurse she took one look at her and said that there was no point in them doing anything for her as she would need to see a doctor. We were sent back to the waiting room and then called through to another part of the hospital where we were put into a paediatric treatment room and the door was shut! As the nurse left she reliably told me that the head nurse knew we were waiting.

The room had obviously not been cleaned from the previous patient as there was still a chunk of chocolate on a little shelf behind the chairs we were sat on. There was also nothing to look at apart from blank, white walls - not exactly what you would expect for a room designed for children. After an hour no-one had even come to put their head round the door and check that a child with a head injury was still alive! I went out into the corridor and finally found a passing nurse to ask how long we would need to wait and she rudely stated that she didn't have a clue and disappeared.

After another 3/4 of an hour, with my daughter now getting quite distressed, I asked again and the same nurse exclaimed "what, you've only been waiting an hour and three quarters, well it's at least a three hour wait! " I said that I thought that it was appalling that we had been put into a closed room, not even told how long the wait was and that no-one had even put their head round the door to say that they knew that we were there. She stormed off again. Thankfully, soon after this a lovely nurse and a lovely doctor came along and got us transferred up to the wonderful Tree Tops ward. I can't say enough about how wonderful the staff up on the children's ward were. They were kind, thorough and a complete contrast to the way we were treated in A&E. They did all the neuro checks and my daughter's levels of consciousness improved and her amnesia lessened so that we were able to leave the hospital that same evening.

I would just like to point out though that at no point in our visit did anyone actually give any of her wounds a clean. As a visitor to the area, I had to find and buy dressings etc myself and try and clean all the grazes and wounds up myself. I guess it's a good job that I've got some first aid experience really isn't it!

I know that A&E departments can be very busy places and that they deal with all sorts of very major injuries and illnesses. However, I also know that common courtesy and manners don't cost anything. They also mean that people don't get as distressed while they are waiting to be seen! I really hope that other patients are treated better in future.

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