"My mother's admission to A&E"

About: Ayr Hospital / Accident & Emergency Scottish Ambulance Service / Emergency Ambulance

(as a parent/guardian),

GP decided that my elderly mother should be admitted to hospital for investigations. Ambulance arranged (up to 4 hours) and it arrived (six and a half hours later) and took her to Ayr Hospital A&E. Also having responsibility for young children returning from school, my mother agreed that she was ok to be left and admitted to the ward on her own and asked that I return home to arrange cover for the children. My mother is almost deaf in both ears (2 hearing aids help a little), she was frail and she was anxious. Having arrived by ambulance, she was moved straight into a cubicle. The GP letter was passed over, a brief history was taken and she was changed into a hospital gown to await review by a doctor. Having spent 2 hours waiting in the cubicle, I then had to leave.

However, before leaving I sought out a nurse. I advised that my mother was almost deaf, and that she had only agreed to come into hospital under duress with the proviso that I was kept fully informed of what was happening in order that I could keep her informed and included in her own care. I asked that she make sure my telephone number was emblazened on the front of her medical record and I also informed her that I had the rights and consent of medical power of attorney.

I know you can have a long wait in A&E for a bed but, when I hadn't heard anything from the hospital, I telephoned 3 hours later to find that my mother had been given an x-ray and was in the process of being admitted to a ward.

When I called the ward to find out what was happening, I was advised by the staff nurse that it was 'illegal' for them to give out information from tests or x-rays over the telephone. Therefore, I duly offered to be there within next 15 minutes. This was when I was told that I could not attend in person until visiting time which was by then, the next afternoon. Since I wasn't happy I was then advised to contact the secretary to arrange to speak with the doctor. When I did this, the doctor had relayed the message that I should speak with the nurse who was dealing with my mother and I ended up quite frustrated and hemmed in by the whole situation.

Unfortunately, things didn't get much better. I was refused access to the ward to take my mother outside for a cigarette because they deal with sick patients. My mother wasn't allowed to exit the ward by herself because she was reliant upon a zimmer frame to walk. And, none of the nursing staff were allowed to escort her outside to have a cigarette. Hemmed in? She said she felt it was more like a prison than a hospital. Where are patients civil rights and why don't people listen to patients and their families requests?

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Response from Derek Barron, Associate Nurse Director, Mental Health Services, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

picture of Derek Barron

Dear P o P

Hello my name is Derek

I'm responding on behalf of Ann Gow Nurse Director, who is on leave this week.

I'm sorry to hear of your experience both with the ambulance service and with our services here in NHS Ayrshire & Arran, it is most certainly not what we aspire to provide. In a similar situation I would also feel frustrated and hemmed in. I'm sure our colleagues in the ambulance service will respond separately.

As A&E is outwith my own area of expertise I will pass your comments onto my Associate Nurse Director colleague Angela O'Neill and ask Angela to discuss your experience with the teams involved and then come back to you with a response.

I'm sorry your experience has not been what we would have wanted it to be - thank you for highlighting this to us, it's only with feedback that we can continue to improve our services. I hope your mother's health is improving.


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Response from Pat O'Meara, National Head of Ambulance Control Services, Ambulance Control Centres, Scottish Ambulance Service

Dear P or P,

I was very sorry to hear that your mother waited a long time for an ambulance to take her to hospital after her GP requested it. It must have been very distressing for her and for her family – and for yours as you had arrangements to make.

Normally if there is any kind of delay the Ambulance Control Centre staff will call to apologise, to check on the patient’s condition and to give an indication of when the ambulance will arrive. I do not know if this happened in your mother’s case and I would like to be able to find that out and find out why there was a delay so that I can explain the reasons to you and your mother. It could, for example, be that there was an unexpected increase in emergency calls in the area at the time and these had to be prioritised.

You might wish to know that we share any feedback we receive with health board colleagues and out of hours doctors so that we can work together to provide the services which meet the needs of our patients. In addition, the Scottish Ambulance Service is also exploring the possibility of having dedicated ambulances for calls from GPs, while continuing to respond to the needs of emergency patients.

I would be very happy to look into your case in more detail. If you would find this helpful, do please contact me on 0141 810 6101.

I hope that your mother is recovering well.

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Response from Angela O'Neill, Associate Nurse Director, Acute, NHS Ayrshire & Arran

Dear P or P

My name is Angela and I am Derek's colleague with responsibility for the standard of nursing care within the Emergency Department.

Firstly, I would like to offer my sincere apologies that your experience of our A&E and assessment ward was not of the standard that you or I would wish for our loved ones. I fully appreciate that this breakdown in communication will have caused you undue anxiety and concern at a time that was already difficult for you and your family.

Normally, we would take note of a specific contact number as requested and I apologise that this did not happen on this occasion.

You should also have been offered much more flexibility around visiting times and indeed it would be my expectation that you would be welcomed to the ward at a time convenient to yourself. I have taken the opportunity to discuss this and the other points that you raise with the Senior Charge Nurse and she also offers her apologies, recognising that there is learning to be shared with the team from your experience.

Finally, I would like to thank you for bringing this to my attention and affording me the opportunity to work with our teams to improve these key areas of family involvement and inclusion.

I hope that your mother is now improving and please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on 01563 827023 if you would like to discuss further.


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