"Urgent Care Centre - lack of staff"

About: St Mary's Hospital (London)

Advised to attend our local UCC (Urgent Care Centre) for a simple blood test as GP could not offer appointment for nurse to take bloods until 22 October. NHS 111 advised us to go to nearest A&E who would then pass us on to the UCC.

Advised that a fasting blood test was needed so no food or drink (other than water) after 9pm previous evening.

Arrived at A&E reception at 9:15 a.m. Sunday and presented the GP's request form for bloods.

Waited to see Triage nurse who allocated to UCC (rather than A&E).

Went to UCC around the corner and waited.

Advised that would have to see doctor before bloods could be taken.

Saw doctor at 11:45 who was angry that we had attended UCC! Ignored us when we advised that we were only doing as advised by NHS 111 but eventually took some symptoms (ignored and threw to one side GP's form) and ordered same blood tests as GP had requested on the form.

We waited again. And waited. Eventually make formal complaint which resulted in receptionist walking up to another department and asking for someone to come to UCC and take the blood test.

Blood test eventually taken at 12:55.

What a huge waste of NHS resources, not to say our waiting time.

The explanation given was that there was only one person on duty in the whole of UCC and A&E qualified to take blood for the tests.

When we arrived at the UCC there was no receptionist on duty and the nurse was covering this position. One doctor on duty. GP arrived shortly after 10:00 am to do a 10:00 - 12:00 GP duty.

When receptionist arrived, nurse went to A&E to take short break.

No other nursing cover available.

Quite clearly there were not enough staff on duty to cover the department and any help needed from A&E department was very difficult for the staff in UCC to obtain. Phone calls from UCC did not seem to be answered elsewhere in the hospital - hence the need for the receptionist to walk across to the other department to get staff to attend UCC to take bloods (three patients were waiting for this), as their phone calls were either not answered or the duty nurse phone was always engaged.

Friends and Family cards were left on reception desk but none were handed out to any patients by any member of staff in the 3.5 hours we were there.

The doors to the UCC are operated by a push button and fail if opened by hand. It appears that this is a design flaw as the doors are regularly out of action. A change is needed so that the doors can be opened by pushing on them (and then the electric assist kicks in). A button situated some way to the side of the door is clearly not obvious to most people and needs to be rethought.

Staff were at all times courteous and as helpful as they could be - but clearly the huge waiting times most patients experienced were outside their control.

An experience I would not like to repeat any time soon!

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from St Mary's Hospital

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is extremely sorry to learn about your experience when attending UCC at St Mary's hospital.

This feedback has been passed to managers for this department.

To enable the Trust to look into this matter further, we'd like to discuss the issues raised through the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).

Please contact PALS by telephone on 0203 312 7777 or email on pals@imperial.nhs.uk

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful