"Uncomfortable with nature of staff gossip"

About: University Hospital Of North Durham / Accident and emergency

(as other),

In the early hours of the morning I spent about an hour sitting in the A&E waiting room while I waited for a taxi after visiting the urgent care centre. There were very few other patients in the waiting room but there were quite a lot of staff at various points. The receptionist I spoke to was pleasant and helpful and I have no complaints about any interaction I personally had. However, I was quite dismayed at the way some staff seemed to be behaving.

At one point a member of staff wandered in and spent quite some time ranting about her difficulties with her local GP surgery (which happens to also be the one I attend). Later another member of staff (a doctor I believe) sauntered in and stood lounging against a wall glugging a bottle of coke while gossiping with a nurse. The little group was joined by a paramedic who appeared to be on her break. She decided to add to the gossip which everyone in the waiting room could hear with details of the patient she had just brought in. She not only apparently shared private patient details, but also made comments that seemed to me to be very judgmental and almost mocking about this poor person to whom she was meant to have a duty of care and confidentiality, and, without going into details, had potentially suffered life threatening injuries.

There were also some rather unpleasant comments by some of the other staff. For instance, one of the nurses said that some patients make no effort to help themselves and deserve what they get but that you cant say that to them so you just have to be polite in the hope they go away faster. While the staff I witnessed at UHND may not express their in my opinion unpleasant views directly to patients, they might want to bear in mind that just because they aren't addressing patients directly, doesn't mean people can't hear them and that when patients and the public see and hear staff behaving like that it brings the NHS into disrepute and makes people uncomfortable about seeking treatment in the future. My personal view is that staff who exhibit behaviour and views like I saw on this occasion should not merely be given training on how to hide their views from patients, but should actually not be working in the NHS until they can genuinely commit to values compatible with an NHS career.

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Response from University Hospital Of North Durham

Thank you for providing feedback on your recent visit to the University Hospital of North Durham and in particular the A&E department. I am very sorry to hear that you were unhappy with your experience on this occasion and we will make sure your feedback is passed to the Matron to discuss the issues you have raised regarding staff discussing patients in a public area in the department. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your concerns with you. If you feel this would be useful please contact the Trust’s Patient Experience Team on 0800 7835774. If you would prefer to contact us by e-mail, our address is patient.experience@cddft.nhs.uk If you do decide to contact us, please make us aware that you have left comments on the NHS Choices website. The Trust is grateful for all feedback, positive or negative, as it means we can better understand what is important to our patients. Thank you for leaving your comments on NHS Choices. Patient Experience Team County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust Tel: 0800 7835774