"A&E Visit 7 Jan Approx 4-30 A.M"

About: University Hospital Of North Durham

Ambulance arrived at A&E dept a little before 4-30am and taken into room and seen by nursing staff without delay. We were told that we may have to wait a couple of hours to be seen by a doctor however the reason we were told and this was later confirmed by doctors was that there was only one doctor and one trainee working on the dept. These doctors were covering A&E /resus as well as a small ward. It is true to say we found this quite alarming. This level of staffing is clearly seriously inadequate to provide a safe and effective level of health care to patients. We finally were seen by a doctor at approx 9-45 having waited over 5 hours. We were by no means alone and were aware of other patients, some in obvious pain and distress waiting as long or even longer. It was not until day shift doctors arrived at 8am that there was any visible doctor presence on the A&E unit at all. When we were finally seen all the staff were apologetic and very kind and helpful. The staffing levels during the night in A&E at this hospital in our experience is cause for concern. It is difficult to understand how senior management of this hospital allows this dept to remain operative with such low numbers of doctors on duty without questioning the standard of service available and intervening with appropriate remedial measures to meet their responsibility in the provision of quality NHS care.

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Responses

Response from University Hospital Of North Durham

Thank you for sharing your concerns. The ED matron has provided comment: On the night in question ED had six doctors on duty at various times of the night. There were two middle grade doctors one was on duty from 4pm until midnight and the other was on duty from 10pm until 8am. There were two junior doctors on duty from 5pm until midnight and two working from 8pm until 8am. There was also a consultant on call off site who was available should the ED staff request it. At the time of the lady’s concern ED had the middle grade doctor and two junior doctors on shift until 8am. This is the model of staffing that ED work to and the trust deems it to be appropriate, however it is constantly under review and ED is now in the fortunate position to have recently recruited some additional medical staff. The matron of ED apologises wholeheartedly for the poor experience that this lady experienced in ED on that night and is sincere in her desire to constantly raise standards and provide quality patient care.

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