"We feel let down by A&E staff at North Durham"

About: North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust University Hospital Of North Durham / Accident and emergency

(as a relative),

My husband collapsed - unconscious, in our home and I called the emergency services. The paramedics that attended were fabulous, they were efficient, caring and reassuring, my husband regained consciousness and they took him into the ambulance and performed various checks before deciding he needed to go into hospital for further investigation. He also had a facial injury caused by the collapse which needed attention.

We arrived at the A&E department around 9.30pm, I had followed in my car and after giving his details to the receptionist, I found him on a trolley in a corridor. He was pale, bloodied, disorientated and alone. Eventually a nurse came to him and performed an ECG on a portable device, gave no feedback and disappeared again. We were left for hours. The board in the waiting area initially indicated a 2 hour wait for 'non urgent' cases. This kept being put up in half hour increments the longer we waited. During this time my husband was left on the trolley and there was no-where for relatives to sit, so we (my sons and I) had to stand in the corridor too. No-one gave him the results of the ECG and no-one cleaned him up. My husband was getting upset at being in a mess so my son returned home to get him a clean shirt, and we cleaned his face with a damp tissue.

After being on a trolley for almost 4 hours and still not having spoken to a doctor we were put into a side room but this was obviously for examination only as there was still no seating available. By this time he was beginning to 'come around'; his colour returned and said the dizziness and sickness had subsided and he felt a bit better. The side room was directly opposite the nurses/doctors station and we could see the staff working, most of them sitting around talking (I have no doubt it was about patients),or on the telephone, there was at least 3 doctors and four or five nurses. I went to check the wait time once again just as a nurse was updating the wait times, adding another hour to each of the times on display. I returned to tell my husband just in time to witness the medical staff get out sandwiches/ bags of crisps and put on the kettle - it looked to me as though they had added the hour so they could have a break.

We were furious as it was now 2am and still we hadn't been seen by a doctor. The staff treated us as though we were invisible. My husband checked himself out (well he just got up off the trolley and left), I thought I should let the staff know, but their attitude was - okay, if thats what you want to do it is your responsibility! I was appalled.

My husband went to his GP the following day who completed more tests, and referred him for further investigations. I work in the NHS (in the Mental Health sector),and I was ashamed of the attitudes of the staff we saw in this department, all they could say was it was busy - my husband had been brought in by ambulance, a total waste of time and money, because he was still treated as non-urgent. It seems to me that the paramedics opinion is thought very little of by the A&E staff.

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