"Surreal experience"

About: Princess Alexandra Hospital (Harlow)

I have just come back from A & E and I am still seething. The experience was shockingly bad from beginning to end. My baby fell from his cot this morning and landed on his head. Not wanting to take chances, I decided to take him to the Hospital to get checked out. I was initially directed to the main A & E which, to my relief, was empty. It still took a good 30 minutes for my son to be assessed by the triage nurse, who asked me weird and slightly unsettling questions such as 'who is his social worker?' or 'has he got a dad or are you bringing him up on your own'? (I understand they are standard questions but they might want to rephrase them so that they do not sound like assumptions). They then advised me that a doctor would do a more thorough assessment very shortly. Back in the waiting area, my baby became very distressed and started screaming. This went on for an hour without anyone noticing or doing anything about it. Finally, one of the Receptionists came to me and explained that we would need to go to the Children A & E (but why weren't we sent there in the first place ????). Upon handing over my child's paperwork, I could clearly hear one of the paediatric nurses saying 'he's fallen from his bed, so what?'. I couldn't believe my ears. How can someone so callous and uncaring be allowed to work with children, I wonder? All the while, my baby kept crying and screaming. Finally, I got called in and told that my baby would need to be re-assessed. I calmly explained that he had already been assessed in the main A&E, could I just please see a doctor? The young nurse replied that they do things differently in the Pediatric Unit, so they would need to re-assess him. I asked why I wasted two hours in the main A&E with an extremely distressed baby if he was meant to be in the Pediatric Unit in the first place. No answer. They then proceeded to 'assess' the baby, which consisted of taking a look at him, telling me that he looked fine and establishing that he did not need to see a doctor after all. They put a leaflet in my hand and told me to go home. Morale of the story: I would have achieved more by doing a search on Google. For lack of empathy, poor professionalism, casual approach to my son's care, misleading information and improper comments made, I would rate this experience 1/5 and only because 0/5 is not an option.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Princess Alexandra Hospital

Dear Anonymous, I am so sorry you have had this experience. We have only recently separated Adult and Children's A&E and this has clearly not worked for you. Additionally, the process has also not been explained. The Emergency Department should have been a reassuring and comforting place to be where you were advised that the correct investigations had been completed. You should then have been offered advice and information if you were being sent home about the signs to watch out for and a number to contact if you did become worried. The comment you have described is completely unacceptable and I have escalated this for urgent review, however it is very difficult to identify when this happened or who may have made this comment without further information. I would urge you to get in touch with our friendly Patient Experience Team who can confidentially take your concerns forward. If necessary they can also help you to obtain the support of an independent advocate The number to call is 01279 827084 and you can call at any time between 9.00am and 5.00pm.

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