"New A and E but no cutting edge service"

About: Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Gateshead)

At 12.15am today I was directed to A and E by the 111 service, who told me to get there within an hour. I had suddenly developed blurred vision in one eye, which was very frightening. I was also feeling sick and was disorientated. We arrived at the department where I was triaged and sent to sit in the 'Minors' corridor.

Two hours later I had not been seen by a doctor and my vision had gradually returned to normal over the course of one and a half hours. There were no doctors to be seen. We heard one staff member say they were very short of staff, which certainly seemed to be the case. The only people we could see were porters and St. John's Ambulance drivers waiting for a job. There were also 2 policemen.

The nurses who did occasionally walk past never even made eye contact with the patients. There were no waiting times displayed and no explanations given as to how I had been triaged. There is also no water to drink once you have been taken through to 'Minors'.

At about 2.15am I made the decision to go home to take some soluable asprin in case my loss of vision had been caused by a very minor stroke. I felt that I needed to do something to protect myself. We went out to reception and I said I was leaving. The receptionist insisted on getting a nurse. We ended up with the Sister of the department insisting that I sign a diclaimer form, which I did. I got very upset at this point because I felt the department was more interested in protecting their own interests than in caring for their patients. In my distressed state I was quite rude to the Sister, for which I apologise. I was upset and in pain from a broken rib, but that is no excuse for rudeness.

They should have just let me leave the department. They clearly did not regard my blurred vision as important and I cannot see why I needed to sign a medical disclsimer when I had not been seen by a medic. Someone cannot leave agsinst medical advice if they have not been seen by a doctor. The only reason for asking me to sign their form could be to exonnerate them from all culpability if I then went on to have a major stroke.

The A and E department is modern and looks state of the art. However, it needs staffing properly if it is to deliver an acceptable service. This is a classic case of all that glitters.....

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Queen Elizabeth Hospital

We're sorry to hear you've had a poor experience at the hospital. Patient feedback is extremely important to us so thank you for taking the time to pass on your comments about A&E. We're sorry that part of your experience fell short of what we aim to provide.

If you would like this to be looked into further you can contact our PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) on 0800 953 0667. We try to see patients as quickly and safely as possible in our Emergency Care Centre but waiting times can vary depending on the time of day and the volume of patients coming into the department. Our current waiting times are usually displayed on the electronic screen so please accept our apologies if this was not the case during your visit.

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