"Referral Procedures need an urgent review"

About: Stepping Hill Hospital / Accident and emergency

My elderly father was taken, by ambulance to the A&E dept because, once again, he had collapsed at home and stopped breathing.

We sat in a cubicle for 5 hours without anyone coming anywhere near us. I eventually got the attention of a nurse and told them I was taking my father home as he may as well sit in his own chair (and be warm) as sit in a chilly cubicle and be ignored.

They promised a doctor would see my father within another hour.

A doctor eventually arrived.

They must have looked at my father's medical history as without any heart checks or even blood pressure being taken, they told us that the constant collapsing was most likely being caused by a serious heart condition and he needed an urgent referral to a cardiac specialist to investigate.

They then told us to go home.

They told us to contact our own GP on Monday to 'warn' them that a letter was going to be sent to them, from Stepping Hill, asking them to refer my father urgently to the cardiac specialist at Stepping Hill.

We were then sent home.

This was on a Friday 3 weeks ago.

It took a week for the 2nd class letter to arrive with the GP.

The GP sent a letter back to Stepping Hill asking for an urgent referral.

We are still waiting for the referral.

My father passed away at home 3 days ago from heart failure.

I wonder if, when he was in the A&E 3 weeks ago they had sent him directly to the cardiac unit, he would still be alive today?

Why on earth does a patient have to be referred back to a GP in order to be referred back to the hospital asking for the referral in the first place?

And for God's sake, why are you still sending letters in the post, the slowest mode of communication on the planet when emails or even a fax can produce instant results? I believe that consultants within your hospital, if they wish to pass a patient on to another consultant in a different discipline have to actually write a letter to their own hospital and put it in the post.

This is 2016, for goodness sake sort your communication systems out.

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Response from Stepping Hill Hospital

I would like to offer my condolences for your loss.

I was very sorry to hear of your experience when you attended our Emergency Department with your father, I have passed your comments to the governance team who manage the department to make them aware of your encounter.

I appreciate this will be a difficult time fo you however, if you would like to discuss your experience in more detail so that we can carry out a full investigation, please contact me on 0161 419 5410.

Kind regards

PALS and Complaints Team Lead

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