"Poorly baby"

About: Stoke on Trent PCT / Emergency GP out of hours service

(as a relative),

I have a 10 month old baby who develooped a nasty cough following a cold and his breathing became very wheezy. As its a Bank Holiday and therefore doctors are not open, I had to call the Out of Hours.

The lady who answered was not very pleasant, nor very reassuring. I explained the situation and was told there was no appointments unitl 9pm. I was not happy with this as it would mean I would need to try and get my baby to sleep and then wake him again a couple of hours later. Then I would need to dress him and take him out in the cold to the doctors.

I was told the only alternative was the A & E or a Walk In Centre, both of which would have longer waiting times.

This is a baby we were talking about, one who was struggling to breath, but that, apparently didn't warrant seeing any earlier.

I feel very let down, as you can not take the risk with a baby. I bet if we went up there, the waiting room is full of people who could have waited until tomorrow to see their GP.

I was also told during the conversation that there was a 2 hour delay, so people were still waiting 2 hours after their appointment time, so I'm expected to still be waiting at 11pm tonight to have my baby seen to???

Crazy, crazy NHS system that we have, when you can't even get a baby seen.

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Response from Stoke-on-Trent Community Health Services

Thank you so much for taking the time to send your comments. I have undertaken a full investigation into the waiting times within the North Staffordshire Urgent Care Department.

• North Staffordshire Urgent Care like other urgent care emergency service use historical data in order to plan for known peaks of demand and given that the Christmas break was a 4 day holiday we were expecting the 3rd and 4th day to be very busy and therefore we planned for this eventuality.

• However, nationally we experience a sudden and dramatic surge in flu related cases which drove in a lot of extra calls into every urgent care frontline service. From our own experience many of these patients did in fact need to be seen and could not safely wait until their surgery next opened.

• NHS Direct experience significant capacity issues and were only dealing with urgent calls, other urgent care services experienced similar issues and I know we were able to provide access to appointments albeit with a wait, but far sooner than others in the area.

• In order to reduce the wait times, over the Christmas period we extended our satellite centres which normally open 10-2pm on a Saturday Sunday, these were open originally till 6pm and because of demand they were extended till 8pm in Tunstall and 10pm in Longton Cottage Hospital for the bank holidays.

• Together with an higher than expected demand, factoring in the Christmas increases, we also had a sicker mix of patients which took longer to see, this was further complicated by the fact that should a patient require a referral to hospital, as the hospital was also reaching full capacity, straightforward referrals became a matter of negotiation which extended the duration of the consultation at Basford and regrettably the wait time for patients.

• Patients are assigned a priority based on their presenting symptoms. Given that over 40% of all contacts relate to children, it would be possible to give children priority based on age alone, as other patients with equally urgent needs could be put at risk.

I hope this provides a descriptive account of the issue that North Staffs Urgent Care were experiencing at the time of your visit. We do regularly monitor and audit the waiting times and we will endeavour to clearly communicate any reasons why people are being delayed within the main waiting room.

I can only apologise for your delay and will provide assurance that we will continue to monitor the situation.

Director of Operations

North Staffordshire Urgent Care