"Care at A&E-- opposite ends of the spectrum"

About: Royal Cornwall Hospital (Treliske) / Emergency Department

(as a service user),

Yesterday at around 03:00 I woke up in pain and was not able to get back to sleep.  This was because the evening previous I dropped my 200KG motorcyle, whilst parking it, and my leg  was trapped between it and the pavemet, with ankle being stuck at an awkward and painful angle.  By about 04:30 yesterday I had still not been able to get back to sleep because of the pain and so thought it best if I took myself off to A&E.  

On arrival at about 05:15 I hobbled accross the car park to the Trelawney wing entrance and because walking was so difficult and painful, I called through to A&E and straight away they sent a porter with a wheelchair to take me the rest of the way.  Reception where very pleasant and booked me in efficiently. A short while later I was seen by the Triage practioner James.  James was great and agreed with my own thoughts that I had just suffered a bad sprain.  However ,he thought it wise, as a precaution, that the ankle was x-rayed, since strained ligaments can damage bones.  James also gave me some liquid morphine which made me much more comfortable. The ankle was x-rayed some 10 minutes later, again by very friendly and efficient staff, and I was then left in the waiting area, in a wheel chair, with foot elevated, to await the results of the X-ray.  It was after this that my experience changed from of feeling cared for and friendly.

After I  had sat in wheel chair for 10 or 15min, a very short wait a person appeared at the doors into the treatment area an called my name.  I said yes and put my hand up.  they just stood there looking at me from about 6 or 7 metres away.  Eventually I said can I have a hand please mate (I didn't realise they were a doctor) , even though it was obvious that my ability to get across the room was not at its best.  Eventually they walked to the consulting room door next to the triage consult room and held it open, without a hint of offering to help me get through the door, then waving their hand towards the bed, as an I offer to sit down.

Next, this doctor said, without taking eyes off the computer screen, displaying words not writing, that the X-ray showed nothing (as James and I expected) and I was free to go-- he didn't even examine the ankle.

I said "Hey what about treatment" 

They said to keep it raised and put cold on it from time to time and take paracetamol.  I had all ready told James that because of my long term arthritic condition that 500/8 co-codamol were hardly scratching at the pain, 

I said "I have been following RICE since a few minutes after it happened and at regular intervals all night.  However, I haven't got good bandages for the compression element and was hoping to get some strapping applied"  Also and that I have run out of 500/30 co-codamol, can I get the co-codamol over the counter I asked, and received an affirmative reply. Then I was informed that there is no evidence that compression helps in these cases

"Oh I thought that was the "C" of RICE" says I

Apparently it stands for cold

They then went as if to show me the door to leave.  W

"Well can I at least have some crutches so that I am not putting me weight on it?" 

The doctor returned a few seconds later with a set.

I was shown out the door and left with a very slow walk back to the car park.

This Dr seemed to be in a rush, even though A&E was pretty quiet. The care and bedside manner quite frankly left a lot to be desired-- this doctor let the NHS side down.  A side that is in the main staffed by angels, who treat everyone with great compassion and professionalism, in often very taxing circumstances.

Anyway to round off the story, I stopped at a supermarket on the way home, bought and fitted an elasticated bandage which immediately gave a level of releif.  However I found I couldn't by 500/30 co-codamol off prescription and so had to go to my GPs, who were able to prescribe same to me.


Response from Jane Michell, Matron, Emergency Care, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust

Dear 'Hobbler'

Thank you for your post regarding your recent visit to the Emergency Department. I am sorry to hear about the conflicting care and treatment that you received that were indeed as your title suggests at 'opposite ends of the spectrum'

I would like to apologise on behalf of the medical staff for their lack of compassion and I will forward this post onto the team. I am delighted however, that you found my nursing staff to be helpful and considerate which is what we aspire to achieve. I will gladly forward this onto James who will undoubtedly be very grateful that you took the time to share your experience.

I hope you are making a speedy recovery.

Kind Regards


  • hobbler thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} other {{helpful-1 == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} so too

Update posted by hobbler (a service user)


Thank you for getting back to me, and apology on behalf of the Doctor accepted.

Maybe he would like to know that RICE over the next two days, with a firm C element of veterinary bandages over an elasticated tube bandage had a huge affect over the following two days, dramatically reducing swelling. I have been off painkillers since Friday and am able to hobble with just a walking stick now.

Thanks once again for the wonderful care delivered by most.