About: Princess Alexandra Hospital (Harlow)

My four year old son is asthmatic. We visited PAH A&E for the first time a few months ago when he had his first ever asthma attack. I left a glowing review on here and sent a Thank You note to the hospital. On Tues last week my son had another episode. This time he went from perfectly fine eating his lunch at nursery to total hysteria, saying he had pain in his tummy, asking for his puffer, going blue around his mouth and black around his eyes, couldn't stop crying and just saying over and over "help me mummy, please help me, I'm scared". After trying for over half an hour to calm him and work out what was going on, only for the panic and breathing difficulties to worsen, I rang our doctors to be told that we could go on a waiting list for a call back but they couldn't give any indication whatsoever of how long it would be. My son was in pain, frightened and struggling with his breathing so I told them not to bother with the call back and that I would take him to A&E. On the way to the hospital my son went quiet. I could see he was breathing ok but wasn't sure if he had passed out or fallen asleep from exhaustion. I was only around the corner from the hospital now. I told myself I will be carrying him in in a few minutes. The parking at the hospital was non-existent. Everyone driving in circles and fighting for spaces. There wasn't even anywhere to park illegally that wouldn't be blocking access for others. After driving around for an hour I left the hospital, parked in Sainsbury's down the road, carried my son into the store and asked for the postcode so that my husband could collect us and take us around to A&E to drop us off. My son woke up and was calmer than before but still very scared and we still didn't have a clue what was going on. Outside Sainsbury's a number of people took one look at us and offered to call 999 for an ambulance. I told them not to worry, that my husband was on his way. When we got to a&e we were greeted by a female nurse. I explained about what happened at nursery and subsequent hysteria, tummy pain and breathing problems. She looked half heartedly at my son's stomach. Didn't touch it at all. Didn't look at or listen to his chest. Her reply was to ask if we had tried to see the doctor. She was clearly annoyed that I had come to A&E instead of waiting for the doctor's callback. I explained that both my son and I were scared and didn't want to want an indefinite period for a doctor to call us back. I explained that I had had to give my son a much larger than usual dose of his puffer to calm his breathing down and that his breathing problems had seemed to be getting worse. Her next question was to ask me whether social services were involved with us (No!) and then asked my son who had upset him at nursery. He replied no one, clutching his stomach. She ushered us out to the waiting room and told us to collect a urine sample. We were then ignored completely for several hours until we left. Untreated. Uncared for. In tears.

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Response from Princess Alexandra Hospital

Dear Ms Brett, You've clearly had a horrible experience. I can't imagine how and your son must have felt during that period trying to find a space to park, trying to get a way to get to the hospital. I have children and I have been in the same position, I completely sympathise. We know the parking situation is very difficult right now and are looking at longer term solution to this, I can only apologise that this is not something we have yet managed to resolve. Your description of the attitude of staff means I need to escalate this today to the Clinical Director and Head of Nursing for Urgent and Ambulatory Care and I will be ensuring someone responds immediately. I am assuming as you have given your name that you want to be contacted and so we will be doing so as soon as possible. If you want to initiate contact yourself you can contact me throughout the day in the Patient Experience Team, Monday to Friday on 01279 827084, simply ask for the Manager of the team.

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