"Why are we waiting?"

About: Princess Royal University Hospital (Orpington)

I attended on Friday 24 January 2014. I was triaged about 6.35pm. Asked to wait in A&E I then saw a nurse. Subsequently I was asked to go to the urgent care centre where I saw a doctor. All this took three-quarters of an hour and proceeded well. The UCC doctor asked me if I would stay to meet someone from the mental health team.It was 7.30. I sat waiting in the UCC. I'd seen the MH team back in August and been discharged. However, the UCC doctor felt it would be useful for me now to have an ongoing involvement with them. I continued to wait in the UCC. I saw people come in, wait, get seen, go off to x-ray, return, wait and then be seen once again to discuss their x-ray. I watched this pattern repeatedly. If you were one of those people, good luck to you. I was pleased for those who had small children with them. At first, the UCC doctor did let me know he had passed on the message to the MH team. But as the hours passed, he looked at me once or twice and then ceased to do so. I think he was just embarrassed that I continued to be left unattended. And that's part of the problem. Even ignoring the fact this doctor felt I should have an ongoing involvement with their mental health team, I was just left there. Nurses walked up and down the corridor, oblivious to the common courtesies you'd expect anywhere else. I sat there until close to 10pm until I discharged myself. By now I was angry. Seen by two nurses and a doctor who felt I needed ongoing mental health support, I was left without any care. No one asked how I was. Who I was waiting for or if I needed anything. I wonder if the staff are trained in avoiding eye contact and how to ignore people. Or whether they are just so embarrassed that no one speaks to those waiting so they deliberately avoid eye contact. And what of those who should have come to see me? What were they doing for the hours I was waiting? Who will check how they deployed their time? Will there be any comeback that a person with mental health needs was left unattended and allowed to discharge themselves? Will anyone at PRU go back and determine what the MH team were doing in the hours I was waiting? I fear not. But I don't see how we improve services and the patient experience unless medical staff are required to account for their time when people are left for so long. As I left, I walked across the car park to the mental health unit. People were beginning to pack up and preparing to close down and go home. So they had been there. They just hadn't walked across the car park as I had. And now they were going home. What is also clear from my own experience and the others on this site is that lack of waiting time management. You treat us like cattle when we are at our most vulnerable and no one manages the waiting area, checking if people are being seen in a timely manner and chasing up when we are not. Will this ever change? Well, you haven't replied to other concerns on this site since November. I'm not holding my breath.

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Response from Princess Royal University Hospital

Please accept our apology for the delay in responding to your comments. We are very sorry to hear about the problems you experienced in the Urgent Care Centre and with the local Mental Health Team. Please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) so that we can discuss your concerns. You can either email them on kch-tr.PALSkent@nhs.net or phone 01689 863 252.

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