"Mixed experiences of A&E in Hull"

About: Hull Royal Infirmary / Accident and emergency Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

(as the patient),

I was taken to A&E by ambulance, about 2.00am one morning recently, after the paramedics said they were taking me in so that I could be given some treatment to relieve my chest and back pain and help with my breathing difficulties, until the new antibiotics kicked in. I was very relieved and comforted to hear this but unfortunately, what was offered and hoped for, did not materialise.

I was assessed and then dumped in a dingy corridor, on a trolley, on my own, where the drunks, druggies et al were walking up and down and I was frightened, especially as I had plenty of money with me as I hadn't expected to be left alone. Being frightened aggravated my chest pains and breathing difficulties.

I asked a nurse with a commode if I could have a commode as my ankle had really swollen, I felt light headed and dizzy so didn't feel well enough to walk to the toilet. She said I couldn't have a commode in the corridor so would have to wait until I was in a room. I asked if the commode could be put in the entrance to the CAT Scan Suite and was told no.

I told her I needed the toilet as I was going to pee myself and she just walked away. I was so desperate for the toilet that I jumped off the end of the trolley, not a good idea with such a swollen ankle but I couldn’t get out any other way because the safety bars were up. I shuffled through Paediatric A&E with no socks or shoes on as my ankle had swollen so much that my shoes were too tight. At this point I got upset as the department was closed and I realised that if I fainted, as I have done recently, nobody would know I was there.

On my way back I had to walk past a male nurse, sat at a desk in Paediatric A&E and he didn't even acknowledge me, never mind ask if I was okay, even though I was struggling to walk, was in bare feet and had a gown on. The commode nurse walked by half an hour later and told me that she hadn't forgotten me, which is very hard to believe. I must admit that I did snap at her when I told that her I had been to the toilet but this was due to my utter frustration at the very poor service I was receiving and also how ill I was feeling.

When I came back from the toilet I had to sit on the floor, in the corridor, as I couldn’t get back on the trolley on my own. Nobody came to see if I was okay, even though I was a trip hazard and my trolley was empty. I had to ask the passing porter if he could put the bars down so that I could get back on the trolley. He did come back later and ask if my breathing was okay but nothing happened when I said no.

After 2 long hours of being frightened and alone in such a horrible environment and not having 1 clinical member of staff ask if I was okay, if I needed any pain relief, or even give me an update on how long I should expect to have to wait to see a doctor, I left. I felt I would be safer at home, in bed, after having a bath to clean myself up after walking bare foot to the toilet and having to sit on the floor until I could ask someone to help me back on the trolley. I felt able to do this as the excellent Paramedic had assured me that my problem was not cardiac, as I had feared. I did not tell anybody I was leaving as I thought I would show the same level of courtesy that had been extended to me and there was nobody around to tell.

On this occasion, I felt totally unwelcome by the staff in A&E. Whilst I was on my own, on a trolley in the corridor, very few of the nursing staff that walked by looked me in the eye. The ones that did, did not return my smile which isn’t very nice when you are not well and feel vulnerable on your own. I do appreciate that A&E is a very busy department but I don’t think that a smile is too much to ask, especially for someone who has been dumped, on her own, in a frightening corridor for 2 hours, with strange people milling around.

I received equally poor service a few weeks earlier. I came to A&E at about 4.00 am with chest pains and breathing difficulties and was turned away, without being treated by a doctor. I arrived by taxi as I did not feel well enough to drive. I ended up in tears when the doctor told me that I had to go to my GP as I was neither an accident, nor an emergency as I had had my symptoms for 8 weeks. I explained that I was in the middle of changing GP and couldn’t get an appointment with my new GP for 2 weeks and was frightened with my breathing difficulties but I was still sent away.

Later that day I called PALS to ask what my options were as I needed treatment, which I was unable to get for 2 weeks as my new GP was fully booked. I had no intention of returning to my old GP as she had sent me away with obesity tablets and told me to cut my fats, when I actually had a chest infection, which was consequently not being treated.

I am still having problems with my chest ~ I have had chest and back pains with breathing difficulties for 13 weeks but I have thankfully been referred for an urgent lung function test. I have however been disappointed with my appointment date, given the delay in my diagnosis and the fact that I will not get a treatment plan until I have the results of this test.

I ended up speaking to a really helpful nurse from Hospital at Night who advised me to call 999. I did this and thankfully I had the good fortune of having 2 extremely kind and efficient Paramedics. They assessed me and calmed me down as I was so upset at having to have all of this drama and I was anxious that I was not seen by the doctor who had turned me away hours earlier. The Paramedics reassured me that my ECG was fine and that I hadn’t over reacted by calling an ambulance.

The treatment I received on this visit to A&E was exceptional and I did not think it was possible to be treated so quickly. I hardly had time to let my partner and work know what was happening as I was so quickly moved from one assessment to another. The very pleasant doctor who I was assigned to actually apologised for the delay and as far as I was concerned there hadn’t been a delay.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››