"A bad first experience"

About: Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

My first experience of Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital (NSECH) was not positive and particularly disappointing given the amount of time, effort and no doubt money that has been devoted to its promotion since it opened last year.

First, I want to make it clear that I have no criticism of the treatment given by any of the medical staff.

When I was eventually seen after a wait of 5 hours from my actual arrival my condition (Kidney Stone and associated infection) was rapidly diagnosed, treated and admission to the Freeman Hospital organised.

The focus of my dissatisfaction on the afternoon I was brought in by ambulance, was the apparent lack of any focused, effective or efficient admission and triage, a complete lack of proper and comfortable waiting facilities for an ambulatory patient like me, the waiting time itself and the lack of any means of communicating information to waiting patients except by the patient asking staff members, thereby distracting them from the needs of other patients.

Nothing more than a simple TV Monitor networked to the waiting areas is required.

During my lengthy wait there appeared to be only one overworked Sister dealing with all admissions from an ever increasingly gridlocked line of paramedics with patients to be admitted, no doubt all waiting to download from their laptops the medical history like that meticulously taken from me enroute to NSECH.

In my case it probably took about 45 minutes to complete this simple but vital step.

While this was being done it would have been obvious that I was injured due to the collapse that triggered the 999 call leading to the attendance of the ambulance.

In particular I had an unpleasant eye injury (later glued), which was bleeding, but it was not until I went to the admissions desk, asked for and was given a tissue to hold over the wound, that anything was done.

I also had a severe pain in the area around my left kidney, but do not recall being offered any pain relief, nor given an explanation as to why that would not be possible.

Throughout the time from arrival at 1640 to my being called through to the treatment cubicle at about 2120 I was required to wait in in the admissions area on a stacking chair with no alternative but to overhear the details of other patients' cases being discussed by various people and they had to listen to details of mine, whether they wanted to or not.

You may note that I have not used the word 'care' in this submission.

That is deliberate on my part.

Until I was moved to the treatment cubicle I saw little or no evidence of what I would consider to be care in the true sense of the word.

Good medical treatment - yes, but good care - no.

On the basis of this experience NSECH has earned the right to be regarded as a good specialist emergency treatment hospital, but a care hospital?

Not yet by a long way in my opinion.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

Dear Mark

Thank you for taking the time to let us know of your recent visit. I can only apologise that this has been your experience and that you had a longer wait than we would like, the hospital has been much busier than normal in recent weeks.

You have taken the time to provide a very measured account of your experience and we are grateful to you as this feedback is very important and will help us make improvements.

It certainly sounds like there are things we could improve on that would have made this a better experience for you and we will reflect on your comments. Thank you also for your comments regarding the medical treatment, it was good to read your account with an understanding that you have received the treatment you required.

With best wishes

Claire Riley

Director of communications and corporate affairs