"My son's experience of being admitted to A&E and the MAU at East Surrey Hospital"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as a parent/guardian),

My son presented at his GPs early yesterday evening with severe stomach pain which was worsening. Our GP was concerned enough to advise that we take him to A&E as she thought there was a possibility that it could be appendicitis. She phoned ahead to the surgeon on call to give them advanced notice that we were bringing him in. We have absolute faith in our GP - we have always been very pleased with the service we've received from her.

I’m afraid to say that from then on, our experience was an absolute disaster. We clocked in at A&E with a letter from the GP. We spoke to the receptionist, who seemed completely disinterested – there was no sympathy or understanding. Naturally, we were quite anxious and concerned but we were not dealt with well. They were entirely unaware that our GP had called ahead, they were not expecting us.

They directed us towards another department, where we showed our letter from the GP and were told to wait. We waited for ¾ hour, during which time nothing happened – no one spoke to us. After ¾ hour had elapsed, I spoke to the staff and asked what was happening. They seemed completely unaware that we had been waiting and when I asked if we were in the right place, they said they thought we should be in the MAU. I’m not sure how long we would have been sitting there had we not spoken up.

The nurse very kindly walked us round to the MAU department, which was very nearby. We appreciated this kindness. She spoke to someone at the desk in the MAU to let them know that we were there and waiting to be seen.

In the early hours of the morning, we were still sat there. We had barely been spoken to and we, just like very many other patients in similar situations, were incredibly frustrated.

We did see a nurse at one stage, who I believe was a senior member of staff presumably responsible for running the unit. This nurse took my son’s bloods and gave him a drink. They also offered him a place to lie down if he wanted to, but he declined. We then had no further feedback from this nurse to tell us what was happening.

We asked on a few occasions when my son would be able to see a doctor, and we were told ‘minutes’. An hour and a half later, nothing had happened. This nurse, and in fact all of the staff we saw, seemed to have no control over what was happening, or any idea really. No one really took charge, lots of patients and family were waiting and we were all talking amongst ourselves because everyone felt the same way. We just wanted to know what was going on and when we would be seen but we were just told that the doctor was in surgery and no one knew when we would be seen.

At one stage, I walked quite a way to the nearest coffee machine. I took my money down there but when I reached the machine, there were no cups. Another frustration, given that we had been waiting now for almost 5 hours.

We finally saw the doctor at about 1pm and I have to say they were very helpful. I have no criticism for how this doctor dealt with us, they were very sweet and apologetic. They were the only member of staff to apologise to us for having had to wait for such a long time in the entire time we were in the hospital. The doctor was unable to reach a conclusive diagnosis from the tests that had been carried out, but felt confident enough that it was no appendicitis so sent us home.

All in all, a very disappointing experience and not our first at this hospital to raise some serious concerns about coordination and customer service.

To be honest, we would have patiently waited in the hospital for as long as was necessary but it was so frustrating to be sat waiting, with no one communicating with us and no idea of when we might actually see a doctor. My son was in a lot of pain and we were concerned. Other than the quick check from the nurse and then seeing the doctor hours after we arrived, we didn’t feel the majority of the staff had any genuine interest in our son or his health. We would have so appreciated just being kept in the loop as to when we could expect to see the doctor and it would have been nice for someone to have checked in with my son every so often to see if he was ok or if there was anything he needed. It was the same for many other patients that night who we spoke to as we waited – everyone felt the same.

To me, it is a matter of basic customer service and communication – and ultimately just feeling that someone cares.

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Response from Eloise Clarke, Communications Manager, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust


I am sorry to read your comment. I have informed the Divisional Chief Nurse about your concerns, and I have also informed the relevant matrons for those areas and am confident that they will discuss the concerns you have raised. I note your point about patients being very patient if they are communicated with and know what is going on.

Please can you email us with your contact details as I know that the matrons would like apologise themselves and have the opportunity to give assurance that feedback such as yours does make a difference in highlighting areas of the service where we need to make improvements.

Please contact me on eloise.clarke@sash.nhs.uk and I will pass on your email/telephone number to the relevant matron.

Best wishes

Eloise Clarke.


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

Update posted by concernedmum (a parent/guardian)

I posted a report early December about my Son's visit to the SAU at East Surrey Hospital.

The response was acknowledged on your site and I received an email asking me to contact Clare Addison, Matron SAU, which I did yesterday.

Clare and I had a lovely conversation. She apologised and was very caring, understanding and I felt will address the issues that we raised. Clare also reassured me that she, or her senior colleague would be on duty this weekend, and if we were still concerned to go to the unit direct.

Clare listened to my concerns, was excellent in the responses she gave and I have every confidence that she will try and put things right.

Thank you Clare, you have restored my faith, your professionalism was outstanding.

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