"Increase the number of your staff on your A&E!!!"

About: North Middlesex Hospital

I took my mother to North Middlesex A&E department around 11 o'clock on evening of 4th July after she was complaining of chest pain, palpitation, shortness of breath and fatigue. I checked her blood pressure and it was high despite being on antihypertensive medications. Having family history of heart disease and diabetes, I rushed her to A&E. Within one hour of registering, she had her ECG and bloods taken by nurses and were asked to wait. We were told waiting time around 5 hours. I had to ask reception after 4 hours why she has not been seen yet and we were told they were short of staff and there were 2 patients before us. We had e had to wait until 5: 30 in the morning, while my mother was still feeling chest pain, hungry and sleepless waiting in the cold waiting room. Being diabetic and waiting for almost seven hours in the A&E i had to go to reception and complain why they keep someone in pain with diabetes for so long and without knowing what is wrong with her. Reception staff keep repeating they were understaffed and we had to wait more!!!. After arguing with reception, i was eventually told by a shouting receptionist that my mother's ECG was normal and told to wait more!!! I asked why it took them 7 hours for them to tell us her ECG normal while we were waiting anxiously thinking that she might be having a heart problem!I had to stop a doctor who was calling another patient to ask when my mother was still waiting after seven hours and was eventually let in. I spoke to the nurse and doctor who looked after my mother and told us everything fine with her heart and but her blood pressure was out of control and she was either having indigestion or a viral infection and that might be why she was having palpitations and fatigue! I managed to ask the doctor and nurse inside why it took them almost 7 hours to inform us the ECG was fine and all they said they had very few doctors and nurses and too many patients!!! I told them I filled a complaint form. I was told by the doctor and nurses that's what all patients should do because patients don't make written complaints and hence the managers ignore the fact that the department is crumbling under the large number of patient with fewer doctors. I ended up apologizing to doctors and receptionist who were only doing their best. All I want a response from managers/directors to my following question: While so much money had been invested to improve the outlook of NMH buildings, why couldn’t you make some investment to increase the number of your staff on your A&E department. As you can appreciate, it is the doctors/nurses who can save lives not the outlook of your buildings. Being understaffed on an A&E department will create more tension between hard working staff and patients.

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Responses

Response from North Middlesex Hospital

Thank you for your feedback, Dilek. I am sorry that the level of service provided to your mother did not meet your expectation as well as our own, as we aim to provide a high standard of care and customer service to all our patients at all times. I have investigated your comment and can state that we were not short of staff on the night your mother attended. What occurred is that unfortunately at least two hours before, during and three hours after your mother’s arrival, the department was very busy with a high number of patients attending, as well as a large number of patients arriving by ambulance who were critically ill. This resulted in the long wait that you experienced and should have been communicated to you by our staff. Apologies nonetheless for your experience. I have discussed it with the team and reminded them of the need to be compassionate and caring towards all our patients, no matter how much pressure they feel under. In response to your specific question, the hospital has made significant investment in recruiting additional nurses and doctors since our expansion and because we have a large team of staff, we are constantly recruiting. Sixteen additional nurses will be joining us in September. I'm the service manager for A&E and I'd be happy to discuss it further with you if you'd like to contact me directly at gcarter-sandy@nhs.net. Thanks again

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