"A Big Headache - getting medication in Northampton"

About: Northampton General Hospital (Acute)

(as the patient),

I am 85 years old and had a raging headache, on Sunday 8th October. Unfortunately no-one is available on Sundays, doctors seem to have a 9 to 5, 8 hour day, 5 days a week. So I called NOMAD – the Northampton Medical Association out of hours service, as the pain I was experiencing was excruciating. I went to NOMAD at Northampton General Hospital and waited 40 minutes to be seen. I am not complaining about the wait as they were very busy. I saw a doctor who examined me very thoroughly. He said the headache was caused by some sort of Neuralgic Pain and said I needed a certain kind of pain relief tablet. He did not have this to hand, the pharmacy was closed because it was a Sunday, so I asked how do I get some? So he issued me with a prescription labelled “urgent” and told me to give this to someone at the police station and someone there would open up the pharmacy for me.

I proceeded to take this down to Northampton Police HQ, but they told me that this system was no longer in use and advised me to go back to Northampton Hospital A&E and to ask for a specific sister called Staff Nurse Cootes. I found her and she was most efficient, unlocking the pharmacy and bringing me some water so I could take the tablets.

I think that this is awful treatment of an 85 year old man to have to endure, traipsing all round Northampton on a Sunday night to get some tablets. The main problem was that the A&E department was bursting, far too busy. There were even 6 people lying on trolleys waiting to be moved, so undignified to be just left there. To top it all as me and my wife left there was a message on the tannoy advising people to go home and come back in the morning due to an emergency.

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Response from Northampton General Hospital

Thank you for telling us about your experience following your visit to NOMAD. This is an out of hour’s service organised by the Primary Care Trust. It is sited at Northampton General Hospital but we do not manage it.

We will however ask one of the A&E consultants to raise the issue of out of hour’s prescriptions with the NOMAD team.

We do appreciate that the A&E department gets very busy but we turn no patient away and try to ensure that the privacy and dignity of all patients is preserved.

It is reassuring that in this busy environment that our staff continued to remain helpful, efficient and caring.