"Sent home from A&E with a broken neck"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Accident and emergency East Surrey Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I have a back condition and my spine is very stiff, so when I slipped and fell flat on my back, I was very concerned that I may have seriously damaged it.

An ambulance took me to A&E at East Surrey Hospital. There I explained to everyone about my concern about my spine, and I explained at length about why I believed my spine was vulnerable to damage. The Doctors kept me in for 30 hours, and gave me xrays and a CT scan, and I was eventually assured that there was no damage to my spine and I was sent home.

Thankfully I asked my Rheumatology Consultant at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath to have a look at my xrays and scan. He did this and immediately he spotted I had fractured a vertebra. So I went to see the Orthopaedic Consultant at East Surrey Hospital, he had another xray taken, and immediately spotted that the fracture in my neck was so unstable that it was unsafe for me to even go home. I was admitted immediately and four days later he operated to put a plate in my neck.

Had I not gone for the second opinion, and just taken what the A&E told me, then I could either be a quadriplegic or even dead.

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Response from Fiona Allsop, Chief Nurse, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dead Redhillchilipepper

I am sorry to read of your experience and understand your concerns. I will forward your comments to the Lead Consultant in the Emergency Department for his review.

Kind regards


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Response from Eloise Clarke, Communications Manager, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear 'Redhillchilipepper'

Thanks again for getting in touch to share with us your concerns. I hope your voice is now stronger and better, and thank you for getting in touch with me via twitter and email. As discussed, we are doing a full investigation of what happened and will be able to share our findings soon.

Thank you,


Head of Communications.

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Update posted by Redhillchilipepper (the patient)

It is now almost 2 months since I posted my account, and apart from the 2 acknowledgements I am still waiting for a full explanation of why the A&E department failed to diagnose my broken neck.

Response from Maxine May, Communications Officer, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

I was sorry to read that you have not yet received a written explanation and so I have carried out some investigation to find out what has happened. I have been informed by our complaints department that a letter has been written and sent in the post today (May 16th). You should receive this within the next couple of days.

In the meantime, I can only apologise for the delay in response. If you don't receive a letter by next week then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me and I will escalate your concerns.

Kind regards

Maxine May

Communications Officer

Contact: maxine.may@sash.nhs.uk

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