"Strange way of dealing with patients"

About: Manchester Royal Infirmary

I visited MRI with my son who had a serious infection, after being advised to attend A & E by the 111 service. I have to say that A & E has improved enormously from previous visits - much cleaner, availability of porters and friendly staff (although no-one introduced themselves by name). However, I found the process a little worrying. As I work for the NHS, I am aware of the four-hour target and, sure enough, with minutes to go, my son was transferred to a ward. Well, I say a ward but actually it was the 'receiving unit' on ESTU - which was little more than a collection of a few trolleys and chairs (chairs for patients?!!) The ward was cvercrowded, roasting hot and no member of staff bothered to see whether my son was ok or not or explain what was happening. An older patient was playing a mouth organ which was upsetting everyone else as it was intrusive and tuneless and, while I know it is a difficult decision for staff, I did feel that the views of other patients should be taken into account. Surely ill people deserve a bit of peace? I had gone home to get my son an overnight bag (us having been told that he might be in for 2-3 days) when I got a call to say he was coming home. I honestly think it is the target-driven approach (plus the additional payment for admission) which drove his care, not his own interests., Doctors gave the impression that they did not know what was wrong with him - one minute he was being given antibiotics and the next only pain relief on discharge. I don't think the CCG should be paying for an admission when it is merely a few hours in a chair or in a holding area. I felt as if my son was just a statistic tbh even though I understand very well the processes and pressures on acute trusts. I think this is something that the commissioners should take up with them as it is public money. Lastly, there only seemed to be one thermometer in A & E (various people came looking for it) which seems a little strange and there were no chairs for carers to sit on at all. Also, the drink and food machines were not filled up and working. The staff were friendly, though, and were very good. But I can't imagine how awful it must be to work on that ward. One of the patients was shouting at the nurses and it did seem rather understaffed (1 nurse to 8 patients ??)

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Response from Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for your feedback on our services and your experience in the Emergency Department. Firstly, there are a number of issues and concerns mentioned and it will not be possible for us to address them all in this response. This is mainly because we would like more specific information about your visit for us to undertake a more comprehensive investigation and offer a fuller response.

It is good to read that you found the department cleaner than your previous visits. We do work hard with our partners Sodexo to ensure the environment is kept as clean as possible. It is also heartening to hear that the staff were friendly towards you but we acknowledge that they should introduce themselves to you and this is something that we are continually reminding them to do. We are also in the process of issuing all staff name badges worn at eye level to ensure that patients and visitors are aware of who is caring for them.

You raised concerns regarding a lack of equipment and we thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have reviewed the number of thermometers in the department and we do have sufficient supply so we are not sure of why this was an issue on that particular day. It is something that the senior nursing staff in the department will be monitoring closely.

We are sorry for the lack of chairs, a number of them were damaged and required replacement. The department are currently awaiting delivery of these chairs.

In relation to your concerns regarding the department being understaff we would like to assure you that the staffing numbers are reviewed regularly by the senior nursing team who ensure that the nursing numbers are at safe level, without a specific date it is difficult to review this in more detail, however if you provide this information the senior team will review and respond again.

As mentioned above we would like to look into your specific concerns especially surrounding your son’s clinical care and therefore invite you to contact the PALS department at pals.cmft.nhs.uk or on 0161 276 8686 so we can liaise with you directly and give a more complete response.

Once again thank you for your feedback.

Emergency Department staff