"Lack of concern for my mother at A & E in Darlington"

About: Darlington Memorial Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as a relative),

My elderly mother suffers from severe bouts of epistaxis (nosebleeds) and they are often so prolonged that she has to be admitted to hospital and unfortunately this often has meant that instead of going direct to ward 34 (the Ear, Nose & Throat ward) of Darlington Memorial Hospital, she has to go via the A & E route, which has proved to be very traumatic.

In January she had to go to ward 34 via A & E and was on her own, and told me she had had to wait on a trolly for three hours before she was seen. However, I did not fully appreciate how horribly traumatic this would be, until I went with her in February and suffered a four hour wait with her.

Her nose had been bleeding for 11 hours before we arrived by ambulance and she was taken to a treatment room where her pulse and blood preasure were taken then we were left to our own devices. Nobody showed the least concern that she was very weak and tired after holding her nose for so long and losing so much blood. During the first 2hr wait we were visted by two medical students, one of whom could not find her vein to take her blood and had to have several painful attempts before he succeeded.

The room was boiling hot and at no time was she offered a drink. On four occasions I had to ask passing staff for dressings to hold under her nose and they grudgingly found some leaving me to sort my mother out and after 2hrs I went to ask a nurse if she could have an ice compact to ease the bleeding, at which point a nurse said, "Oh! hasn't the doctor seen her yet?"

When a Dr finally looked at my mother for a few minutes she said to take her to ward 34 for treatment. Once at the treatment ward, the Dr apologised that they were a nurse short, so I then had to assist with holding dish for blood, plus mopping it up, whilst packing was put in, then trying to clean my mother up. The Dr duly disappeared saying to shout if we needed her. By this time it was 8pm and my mum was very weak, extremely tired and traumatised, as was I, then we waited another hour on the treatment trolley before a bed became available.

No elderly person should have to wait, frightend and unattended for large chunks of time, like this. As she had been at this hospital with Epistaxis many times before, the least they could have done was taken her straight to the ENT ward to be made as comfortable as possible until she could be seen by a Dr.

I didn't complain or make a fuss at the time as I myself was very frightend and was trying to comfort my very distressed mother. However, I realise that it would be this lack of care and consideration that could have killed her, not her nosebleed.

I am very aware of how busy A & E are and what a wonderful job they can do, but I can assure you they were a very long way from wonderful this time.

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