"Hospital doesn't know what it is....nor do we,..."

About: Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

An elderly relative suffering with terminal cancer was referred by his GP for immediate attention. Rather than waste precious ambulance resources we took him to NSECH and presented ourselves at reception. I don't know what it takes to be regarded as an emergency as we were told there could be a three hour wait yet there he was, slumped in a wheel chair, in pretty poor shape and all the while his condition deteriorated.

Thankfully, after pressing, he was taken through to the Emergency Dept after a short wait to be seen by a nurse and eventually by a doctor, but only after we'd raised our concerns that he couldn't wait.

This was my first experience of NSECH, and it wasn't good - badly designed, lack of compassion, disinterested staff, dirty toilets, an isolated location. We were more fortunate than those in the walking wounded area which is in the main entrance to the hospital - where's the dignity in that? Two poor souls in particular, obviously in discomfort but past caring about their dignity, being on public display for the world to observe. Awful!

With the best will in the world, people in need of urgent care don't know where to go. They go to Rake Lane, wait hours then get told to go to Cramlington where there is yet another endless wait. People are going to Cramlington to avoid the risk of having to queue twice. Cramlington is an experiment, and the ill and injured are the guinea pigs. It needs to be sorted!

Ironically, here was my relative suffering with cancer, in desperate need of care, yet there was a sign prominently boasting that the hospital trust is rated '6th in the country for cancer patient experience'. That rubs salt in the sound!

I could go on and get the usual platitudes from a senior trust manager offering excuses and the contact details of PALS in response. However, more is needed. This hospital may bathe in the glory of being the future of emergency care but, if this is the case, I do not like the look of the future. As a minimum, the trust should respond stating precisely what it is doing to resolve these issues that I, and others, raise on this forum detailing the names of those responsible for ensuring resolution. Until it can give this commitment, many like me will doubt the promises made of this hospital and avoid it.

One gets the feeling that this hospital is a vanity project though, in reality, it is not a pleasant place to visit in a moment of need. As a result, I have asked my loved one to promise to not allow me to be taken to this hospital....that's how bad it is!

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

Dear Sir/ madam,

Firstly, please let me apologise for the fact that you have waited far longer for a response than we would have liked.

Upon reading your review I feel strongly that you have highlighted concerns that we will need to address immediately – we are very sorry that your relatives experience at The Northumbria hospital was so poor.

Winter was an exceptionally busy period for us and we aim to prioritise patients as quickly as belt possible, we understand we don’t always get this right. We’re sorry that you experienced such a wait, our staff work hard to ensure patients receive care as quickly as possible. In light of your experience, and the fact that we were caring for an additional 90 people every day compared to last year, we understand we still have a way to go. We are currently working very hard with staff to improve this system.

We understand navigating our new hospital can be difficult, and please be assured that we are continuously looking at ways to improve this including a recent pilot of increased GP availability. We appreciate that the changes to emergency are still in their infancy, causing confusion among patients on where best to go for treatment – we are committed to ensuring we provide patients with accurate and clear information. Please get in touch with me directly Annie.laverty@nhct.nhs.uk and we can talk through this more in-depth. I can also put you in touch with senior leaders within emergency care so that you can hear firsthand all that the Trust is doing to manage activity and efficient flow through our hospitals.

We hope that your relative is feeling a lot more comfortable, I looking forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes,


Annie Laverty - Director of Patient Experience