"Treated like a trouble-maker at St Georges Tooting A&E"

About: St George's Hospital (Tooting) / Accident and emergency

(as a relative),

I took my brother, a previous heart patient at St Georges Tooting, and who had a repeat acute agina attack, to the A&E department in the early hours of the morning.

I sympathise with the conditions the reception staff are often confronted with from drunk or aggressive patients waiting. However I felt that the staff were clearly geared up to assume that everyone is like this. After waiting over two hours to be seen, my brother was in increasing distress. He was not considered an emergency because an ECG showed normal responses, but ECGs do not show arterial constriction. I patiently explained that he needed immediate admission and an angiogram, a fact which was obvious from the notes the staff already had about his past history. This seemed to be ignored.

When I became concerned at the lack of response, I politely and calmly asked to please produce a doctor, I was told I was being "aggressive". The staff behind the glass seemed to assume everyone is going to threaten them. They seem incapable of discerning between a genuine case or an alcohol-infused potential abuser. The A&E waiting room is designed like a prison waiting room, deliberately arranged to be as unpleasant as possible and the whole atmosphere anticipates trouble.

I think that all this does is to actually encourage the very abuse or unreasonable behaviour that this department is subject to. In my experience the staff are extremely defensive and utterly removed from any sense of helpful co-operation. When you behave like this, the potential abuse you are hoping to avoid is all the more likely to take place.

Once my brother was eventually seen by a doctor, everything was fine. I think the clinical director of the A&E department at St Georges needs to re-train his or her staff. They seem unable to distinguish between a civilised person and a trouble maker.

At all times I was scrupulously polite but was made to feel as though I was wasting their time. If my brother had been left much longer unattended, he was in real danger of collapse. St Georges has an outstanding reputation for heart treatment, but in my experience its accident and emergency department has serious flaws.

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