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"Patronising, unfriendly and humiliating"

About: University College Hospital

What I liked

Reception staff was reasonably friendly.

What could be improved

I got to A&E perfectly conscious that I as presenting a minor condition (and was prepared for longer waiting times and not to be considered a priority), however I felt I needed to consult a doctor, it was out of hours and I thought that A&E were the correct place to refer to.

I was clearly wrong, because the doctor who saw me asked me if I considered my pain a "case for A&E" and actually "life-threatening". He commented that as I had "walked in with a smile, the issue couldn't be that bad".

He finally dismissed me after handing me some pain killers and repeating that he "didn't know what the pain might derive from".

Apart from being patronizing and unfriendly, he simply didn't do his job, unless attempting a proper diagnosis is not part of an A&E doctor's job description?

Story from


Response from University College Hospital

I am sorry to read that your experience of our A&E was difficult. Although part of our doctors' role is to educate patients when they have attended the A&E for issues which should be seen by their GP (or their out-of-hours GP service), we do expect this to be undertaken in a respectful manner. Any patient should expect an initial assessment from us in the department and if the issue is not considered an acute issue, we would refer patients back to their GP/primary care. I am concerned by the language and tone that you have reported from our doctor and would be happy to investigate further if you can provide us with your details. The PALS team can be contacted on 020 3447 3042 or

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful