"Felt belittled by visit to East Surrey A&E"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as a parent/guardian),

I am writing following a visit to the A&E Department at East Surrey Hospital in mid-January with my 16 year old daughter.

The reason for our visit was because we were involved in a bad car accident on a few days earlier in Caterham. The police attended the incident, and our car was unable to be driven and had to be recovered. The accident occurred in the evening, I was driving my two daughters home, and we were hit by another car driving at speed. Luckily my car is a large people carrier, which protected us from sustaining any serious injury.

I was fairly shaken up, and I was not aware of my bruised elbow or pain in my right leg until the following day. However, this subsided by the weekend. On the other hand my eldest daughter, who was sitting in the front seat with me started complaining of a pain in her left hip when she returned home from school on the Wednesday. I told her to keep an eye on it, and that it would probably settle down, but could have been a result of the accident, as her leg had banged into the door of the car during the accident.

By the Friday she said the pain had actually got worse, and it hurt when she walked. I therefore called the out of hours medical service on 111 on Saturday. We were told that she needed to go to East Surrey Hospital within four hours. My daughter was reluctant to go, as she did not want to make a fuss, but the pain was still causing her discomfort.

We arrived at East Surrey A&E around 3. 45pm. My daughter was eventually called in by a Nurse at around 4. 30pm.

I was rather taken aback by the Nurse’s attitude and condescending manner in which she spoke to my daughter. She was very dismissive of the pain my daughter was experiencing, and seemed annoyed and gave the impression we were wasting her time. She spoke directly to my daughter, and asked her why was she only coming to the hospital today, bearing in mind the accident had happened on Tuesday.

I then intervened as I could see my daughter was becoming uncomfortable about the situation. I told her that my daughter did not experience any pain immediately after the accident, and it had become worse over the days leading to the weekend. She calmed down a little, and asked my daughter to show her the area of the pain. My daughter tried to explain that there was no bruising and that the pain occurred when she walked. This Nurse showed no sympathy whatsoever, she just said that she did not feel it necessary for my daughter’s thigh to be x-rayed, and we should go home and for her to take Paracetamol for the pain. She did not examine my daughter’s leg at all, nor did she offer for her to see a Doctor to get a second opinion.

We left feeling extremely belittled, in fact my daughter asked me why had she shown us such a horrible attitude, she said the experience had made her feel that she should not have come to A&E and not mention that she was in pain. I felt that this nurse had trivialised my daughter’s pain, particularly when she said “well you walked in here with no problem”. She did not make any reference to the car accident whatsoever, appearing not the least bit interested as to how it happened.

I do understand that A&E departments across the country are currently experiencing an extremely busy workload, but surely your staff should be trained not to make a patient, who has come in with a genuine complaint, feel worse about their situation. I can assure you that my daughter and I did not enjoy sitting for an hour and half in your waiting area to then be insulted by a member of the Nursing staff. It's a week since visiting the A&E department and my daughter is still in pain despite taking pain relief.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Ian Mackenzie, Director of Information and Facilities, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

picture of Ian Mackenzie

Dear Elodean

Thank you for sharing your story about A&E at East Surrey Hospital. I would like to look into this further so I'd be grateful if you could e-mail me at ian.mackenzie@sash.nhs.uk

Many thanks


  • {{helpful}} of {{total()}} people think this response is helpful