"I came to the A&E department ..."

About: St Thomas' Hospital (London)

(as the patient),

What could be improved

I came to the A&E department last night, Wednesday 12th March, as i had hurt my arm, and was in a lot of pain, and wanted to get it checked out for peace of mind.

I went through the procedure of signing in with the nurse, and getting my details entered into your system and was then told to wait.

I waited for over an hour and a half but throughout the time I was there, I got no indication whatsoever of how long it would take, nobody really checked out what I had or gave me an ice pack and it just felt really impersonal.

I realised as soon as I got there that my situation was not the worse, despite the pain I was in. There was a poor girl who was in a wheelchair who was in a terrible state, and trying to sleep. It seemed like she was in and out of consciousness almost...NOBODY was taking any notice of her, she was just left there to wait. There was someone with her but she didn't look comfortable at all. No effort was made to make enquiries as to how she was doing. She was already there when I arrived and God knows how long she had been there before me!

After an hour and a half I went to ask the nurse how long it would take, and was replied to rather abruptly that I just had to wait. There is no excuse for that behaviour in an A&E department.

I realise there is a lot of pressure on the staff, but a lot more pressure is put on the patients by making them wait and being forgotten until it's their turn, and it just feels like they're being told "you're not a priority, you're just going to have to wait!".

There was a poor guy who had been sat on a wheelchair and was asked by a rather abrupt nurse to get up off the wheel chair and sit on the waiting chairs. The poor guy couldn't even walk properly and he was just left there to wait! He looked very unwell and it was just disheartning.

I'm amazed at the little organisation there was at the department last night, on a really busy night, and of most concern was the lack of attention and concern for the patients.

After an hour an a half, I decided to go home, and advised the person who took my address and next of kin details that I was going home. They didn't seem very concerned, asked for my name but didn't even write it down and I was free to leave, as if I had not even been there.

It felt like a complete waste of time and it was very upsetting to see that people worse off than me were actually ignored like that!

All I needed was a simple xray but the prospect of waiting for however long and then having to wait even longer to get the results was just off putting!

Thankfully, I feel better today and can move my arm a bit more than yesterday so I was lucky but it's not thanks to the A&E department. I should have just stayed home, where I would have been more comfortable.

I doubt if anyone will do anything about this, but it's something that needs to be considered. Perhaps having a priority system and teams that look after each priority so that people can be taken care of in a more effective way. There wasn't even a board saying how long the wait was, which you get in some hospitals apparently!

I don't presume to know anything about organisation of A&E departments, but urge the people who do to carefully consider how they are organised. Or perhaps it will take a loved one of the directors of the hospital to have an accident or an injury for them to see what the organisation is really like from a paitents perspective???

Not satisfied. At all!

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from St Thomas' Hospital

We're sorry you had such a bad experience. There is a priority system (which operates in all A&E departments) but sometimes it's not well explained to patients. We will see what can be done to improve that situation. In terms of staff attitudes to patients, while in most cases our staff remain polite and helpful, sometimes this breaks down. We have just launched a new campaign to et out clearly how important it is for all staff to see things from the patient's point of view.

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