"Lack of urgency at A&E, St George's Hospital"

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

(as a relative),

We have four children, one of whom has "complex needs" of both a medical and behavioural nature.

We noticed that she was wheezy yesterday afternoon, and treated her appropriately at home with Salbutamol. After putting her to bed we heard her gasping for breath, so we put a humidifier in her room, and checked on her very frequently. Later that evening we realised she had vomited and when we woke her to clean her up it became immediately obvious that she was having considerable trouble breathing. We gave her lots of Salbutamol, steamed her in the bathroom and attempted to give her one dose of oral Prednisolone.

When she vomited this straight back up we realised we needed to go to hospital, and so drove her straight to St George's A&E. When we arrived she was obviously unwell, struggling for breath, and with a loud croupy barking cough.

Instead of being seen immediately and treated with a nebuliser and steroids, we could not raise the slightest bit of interest from staff. The triage nurse was simply not at her desk, and the non-medically trained reception staff ignored us completely, so that we were left standing in a queue with out child who was struggling for breath, queuing behind someone who was being given a clinic appointment for her fractured ankle (ie a heck of a lot less urgent than our daughter's breathing).

Eventually our child's breathing began to calm down, and because we were still being ignored we decided it would actually be clinically safer to take her back home and treat her there where at least we had the option of calling an ambulance and having her nebulised at home, or at least treated with oxygen on the way to the hospital.

I felt very frightened to be put in a position where we were effectively forced into making a risky decision for our daughter who was undoubtedly unwell, and I am dreading tonight and what the night will bring.

One thing is for certain - we will not be taking her to St George's A&E in future. Their total disinterest was astonishing and very frightening to witness.

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