"My 2-year-old daughter had been ..."

About: Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford)

(as the patient),

What I liked

My 2-year-old daughter had been referred to A & E. It was only a further 2 minutes when being called into the treatment area upon our arrival in the waiting area. The reception staff and nurses were very friendly and professional.

What could be improved

Upon arrival in the treatment room, the nurse came to see us straight away to take the first stats. A registrar arrived after approx 10 min. I was asked the same questions over and over again resulting in me thinking wether the Dr. wanted me to do the diagnosis on my daughter myself? Surely, once a question is answered we could have moved on to actually finding out what the problem was with my daughter? The registrar then left us to sit in the treatment room for 1 1/2 h !!! unsupervised. As we arrived at tea time, it would have been nice if a drink or some food could have been offered to my daughter who had a high temperature. Fortunately, I had water and a banana with me. After a long time waiting, I decided to prompt nursing staff that we had been forgotten in the room. It took a further 30 minutes for someone to arrive. At 10 pm (2.5 hours after regular bedtime for my daughter) two nurses then came to take blood samples of my then overtired and distressed daughter which a few days later found to be useless as they were contaminated in the process. At 11 pm and me wondering around the A & E treatment area to make sure we weren't forgotten again, my daughter and I were finally admitted to the Brambles ward. There we were put in a cubicle - still no food or drink offered for the little one - and left to ourselves. I was supposed to stay with her but I wasn't given any bedding or shown how to operate the "bed chair" bearing in mind that it was now going towards midnight. My daughter was very distressed and I was exhausted. The night nurse on Brambles showed more affection towards his fellow members of staff than the sick child. He seemed almost scared to touch her. He did not have any comforting words and just seemed to explain that procedures had to be done (drip, blood etc). I am sure that a sick 2-year-old toddler couldn't care less!! I am just glad that I was able to stay with her to comfort her and make the pain less distressing.

Anything else?

During our 5-day-stay at the Brambles Unit, parents who were admitted to stay with their children had to feed themselves during the entire time. Only coffee, tee and soft drinks were made available from the hospital. I was lucky enough to have a partner bringing me in food or he looked after our daughter and I could go to the main reception area at the RD & E entrance to purchase some. I am not sure how single parents would cope? Having stayed with me eldest daughter in hospital in Germany, meals and drink were provided for parents who stayed day & night with their children. I think the NHS forgets that parents actually deliver a huge amount of care to their child whilst having to stay in hospital, e.g. nappy changes and other personal hygiene, clothing, feeding, putting them to bed and generally entertaining and keeping them comfortable. Jobs that the nurses otherwise would have to do! At least make sure that the parents don't get ill from exhaustion and starvation during that time!!

Also some long-term patients (children) who had no parents staying with them, were unsupervised a lot of the time and on a couple of occasions, I had to indicate to nursing staff that a child (approx 10 years old) had soiled herself and wasn't being taken care off.

Last but not least, a lot of staff on the baby unit on Brambles, were so cold and inaffectionate towards the babies and toddlers that I began to wonder why they choose to work there! It made me really angry that the children were being treated like numbers and not human beings. Even if very small children cannot communicate like adults, they still have feelings and need a lot of affection and warm words to re-assure them.

Saying that, two of the nurses were absolutely lovely and made being in a scary environment and painful procedures a bit easier for the little patients. And the staff on the units for elder children were great too.

Story from NHS Choices

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