"Children's A&E"

About: Hillingdon Hospital

We visited Children's A&E on a Saturday evening in early June. My daughter had dislocated her knee (subluxation) and her knee was very swollen and needed support and ice. We normally don't go to A& E when her knee pops out because we know that A &E is just not equipped to give her what she needs. However, her knee was very swollen and she couldn't move it at all. We waited in the penned area of the children's A&E and saw so many sick children arrive (some by ambulance) and sent to wait with us. No-one came to assess any of these children in the waiting area - the other parents urged one baby's parents not to wait but to get someone to help them straight away. Yes, it was a busy night - lots and lots of sick babies. However, there only seemed to be 1 or 2 nurses in this department and the usual non-seeing junior (?) doctors on computers behind a desk. I asked for ice (the ice pack we had brought with us had melted after several hours) - there were no ice packs, I asked for a pillow to support under my daughter's knee - they couldn't find a pillow... Eventually after 6 hours my daughter saw the on call orthopaedic person - he was great but he couldn't do anything for her as the tests she needed meant she would have to be referred - the Hillingdon orthopaedic merry go round. Luckily he helped us by writing to our doctor and putting her on a list to see his boss. A knee specialist. It was the first time that I had ever thought how close this Hospital was to crisis point. Not enough staff, equipment, specialists available 'out of hours' and the sheer volume of patients. Very worrying.

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Response from Hillingdon Hospital

We are very sorry to read about your experience within the Accident and Emergency Department. It may be helpful to explain that all patients are initially triaged by a very senior nurse in the urgent care centre ( our partner organisation provides this service – Greenbrook Healthcare) prior to transfer to the waiting room in paediatrics and therefore those requiring very urgent assistance receive this at that stage. All children are then asked to attend the waiting area in the paediatric emergency department this includes children awaiting review by a GP from the urgent care centre, an emergency department doctor, a paediatrician and specialist doctors such as orthopaedic as was the case for your daughter. All emergency department children, paediatric referred children will then be reassessed by the emergency department nurse for reasons of confidentiality this will be in a secluded triage room and not in a waiting area. There is always a minimum of two nurses on duty in the paediatric area and at times where excessively busy this will be increased to meet the demand. It may have been that these nurses were engaged with children in the cubicle area and not visible to you. For reasons of infection control we do not have the facility to provide ice packs but it is unacceptable that there was no pillow available to provide support for your daughter’s knee. If you would like to talk through your experience in order that we can look into the issues in more depth please ring Noreen Rice – Emergency Care services Manager on 01895 279959. In the interim may we thank you for taking the time to provide us with feedback from your visit to the Accident & Emergency Department.

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