"Staff shortage and lack of co-ordination"

About: Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

Non co-ordination of Staff

Husband admitted to A & E in Berwick on Tuesday 19 April at 6.30 pm.

Had a urinary blockage and needed urgent catheterisation. Admitted quickly - but waited some time for Doctor who advised that as there was no infection they could/would not catheterise and we had to attend A & E at Cramlington 60 miles away. They said they would arrange transport, but then said we should rather drive ourselves.

We are strangers to the area and the map given was inadequate and did not show distances to be covered on A1 causing confusion.

We got very lost.

No hospital signs . A kind taxi driver guided us through a maze of unsignposted streets otherwise we would not have got there.

Admission was quick due to Berwick having sent details in advance.

A nurse arrived to insert catheter but when my husband mentioned he needed a narrow guage catheter due to peyrones disease, they classed this as a complication needing a Doctor and disappeared, not to come back.

They never asked for advice nor sent anyone else.

He lay in pain for 2 hours.

Desperate I kept pleading with staff at the rotunda to do something.

Eventually someone gave him a pain killer which was not that effective.

I was very distraught and in tears accosted a Doctor who said they would find someone.

Eventually a nurse (note not a Doctor after all )did apply a catheter, a 5 minute procedure which brought immediate relief.

We knew the Doctors were busy. We knew there were many more serious cases but someone could have done this simple procedure long before.

From then on all went well. The Doctor was kind and informative. A nurse took blood tests. We waited for results and another nurse supplied various bags. I then had to drive back 60 miles in the dark on an unknown road at 1 am.


1. Why was the Doctor at Berwick unable to perform a simple procedure which would have immediately alleviated my husband’s distress.

2. Why was transport promised to us and then we were left to our own devices.

3. Why are the directions and signposting so poor..

4. Why was my husband left by the nurse who created a complication out of nothing, causing him 2 hours of sheer pain and distress

5. Why did this simple 5 minute procedure take so long.


We are not complaining about the hours spent at the hospital waiting for Doctor and test results, but about the lack of co-ordination between staff to undertake a simple initial procedure to alleviate pain. The catheter could have been applied much earlier by either the Doctor at Berwick or a trained nurse at Cramlington. Such procedure has been done previously by a district nurse. Has the NHS destroyed all initiave and lateral thinking by their staff.

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Response from Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am really sorry to read about your review of your husband’s care at The Northumbria hospital. Due to the nature of your concerns and the questions you have raised, I believe it would be helpful for us to have a chat over the telephone to discuss your review in greater detail.

I would urge you to email me with your contact information and an appropriate time to call and I will be in touch, at a time to suit you. My email is Annie.Laverty@nhct.nhs.uk.

In the meantime I will forward your concerns to the senior emergency care staff so we can begin to look into what happened - this will allow me to gather some answers to the questions you have raised, in preparation for our telephone call.

I look forward to hearing from you,


Annie Laverty – Director of Patient Experience