"Sad and helpless"

About: Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

I live in Canada.

My mum is 88yrs old. As a result of a fall in her home blood tests were taken.

Result was not good so they called her (which was probably scary to an 88y/o) and told her she had to go to hospital.

They took her to cramlington.

I am sure or hope that the staff told her once admitted if she need anything to use a buzzer.

My mum is 88 and with all the excitement possibly did not remember that. Without getting into a lot of details, my mother was in excruciating pain in her right leg.

It was nighttime and the room was dark.

She calling for a nurse as she saw them pass her door again and again.

Pain was so bad she ended up screaming for help.

Eventually someone came but told her unless she uses her BUZZER no one will come.

I have to say that my mum is not a person who seeks attention so this was real to her.

She would rather suffer than bother someone.

What is wrong with the world today.

Maybe there are people who scream out in hospital for no reason but for gods sake please check on the person.

It kills me to know my mum lay there in a dark room in agony with people walking by and not helping her.

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Response from Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

Dear Janice,

Thank you for your review. I was so sorry to hear about your mother’s extremely poor experience of the Emergency Department at The Northumbria Hospital. It must have been awful to learn that your mum was left alone whilst in so much pain, this is certainly not the standard of care that we wish for our patients to receive and I am sorry that your mother went through this. Please be reassured that all staff that work on the wards know to ensure that patients are made aware of their buzzer and how to use it, and that they are able to access it easily, and I do hope that this was the case with your mother.

I do understand that your mother may have not been able to easily use her buzzer or have realised that it was there, but due to the busyness of the Emergency Department the noise levels can often be quite high, and the buzzers are the easiest way for staff to be made aware that patients need them. I certainly will pass on your comments to the Emergency Department to ensure that they hear of your mother’s experience and also to reiterate the message that they must ensure patients have easy access to their buzzers and know to use them when needed.

The doors of patient rooms should always be kept open and would only be closed at night at patient request in order to keep the sound out so that the patients can get a restful night sleep. Each patient has a Comfort Chart which documents whether or not the patient has had the buzzer system explained, whether they have a drink (if they want one) and when they were last checked on. This also keeps a record of who has seen the patient as the staff member must fill in their name. Your mother should have had one of these charts to ensure that she was seen at regular intervals and had everything that she needed. I was saddened to hear that your mother was crying out in pain without being seen to, there is no excuse for this and please accept our sincere apologies. Again your comments will be passed to the team so that they can reflect and learn from this so that other patients do not go through this.

I would like to look into this matter further for you and particularly to explore whether your mother had a completed Comfort Chart and if so what information it holds. If you would like me to do this and with your mother’s permission, please email me her details to Patient.Experience@northumbria-healthcare.nhs.uk so I can pass these onto the team to enable them to investigate further.

Kindest regards,


Jessica Mallach – Head of Quality Improvement and Patient Experience