"Appalling A&E service with disinterested staff no..."

About: North Middlesex Hospital

I accompanied an 80+ year old gentleman to A&E who had fallen at a social event and broken his hip. We had taken him by car as we were advised that an ambulance would take at least 40 mins to arrive. The man was in agony and we subsequently learned several hours later that he had shattered his hip joint and this needed to be replaced. Having arrived at the A&E reception we were obliged to wait for about 15 mins before a porter arrived with a wheelchair to get the gentleman into the building. The porter offered no assistance whatsoever to get the man out of the car and into the chair. Upon arrival at the reception desk the A&E receptionist showed very scant regard for the man's age or condition although he was clearly in agony. Having been told to wait until called he was called, we saw no one in the waiting area who came to assess the gentlemen's condition or the urgency of his problem. Despite the generally warm temperature in the A&E waiting area he began to shiver uncontrollably. Anyone with even the vaguest knowledge of emergency medicine would recognise this as a textbook sign of shock. Despite asking several times if someone could come to examine him in line with basic principles of triage I was told that this could be done via the CCTV. The staff on the desk were at best disinterested at best or in truth downright rude and made it clear that we were bothering them. Fortunately a young woman who was ahead in the queue allowed the gentleman to take her place and he was eventually seen after waiting for nearly two hours. I fully understand that the service has been seriously stretched over the winter period but this is no excuse for the sheer lack of kindness or concern demonstrated by the two members of staff at the "front of house". The whole level of cleanliness and organisation was far short of the basic standard that I would hope to experience. The closure of Chase Farm A&E has left a gaping hole in the emergency service provision in the area which the staff at this facility are clearly unable, unwilling or equipped to fill. I pray that I am not obliged to require their services any time soon.

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Response from North Middlesex Hospital

Thanks for your feedback. I apologise for the apparent lack of communication with you and the patient you accompanied. Our triage process is that once patients are registered at our reception desk, the doctors and triage nurses have the information available and prioritise them, based on the clinical presentation. Our reception staff do not have any authority to request patients to be seen quicker. I apologise if you felt they were unhelpful. I have reminded our team of the basic customer service skills we expect from all staff. I have also passed on your comments about the general cleanliness to the head of the environmental team. We aim to provide a caring and compassionate service to all our patients and I am sorry this was not your experience on this occasion. I am the service manager for A&E services, gcarter-sandy@nhs.net please contact me if you would like to discuss it further.

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