"Disappointed by lack of compassion of reception..."

About: Eastbourne District General Hospital

This week, at six weeks pregnant, I discovered I was bleeding. After a visit to my GP and the Early Pregnancy Clinic, I ended up in agonising pains one evening and after phoning an out of hours number to call if my symptoms worsened, I was told to go to Eastbourne a&e and get checked out as a precaution. I have never been to a&e before. I arrived at Eastbourne a&e to find a long queue of about half a dozen people. The checking in procedure at reception was very long winded and I had to wait with my husband for about 45 minutes to get put on the system. The reception staff told the person in front of us they would have to wait for some time as they had some admin to do, and proceeded to start filling in something on their computer from a pile of paperwork, keying in slowly. I understand they must have been under pressure with a lot to do, and probably needed another member of staff, but by this point the queue was backing up even more. When I finally got seen by the receptionist and explained my situation, I was quite emotional. I knew by this point I was probably miscarrying, which was heartbreaking. They were very cold and asked me, sounding annoyed, 'but why have you come in here?' OK, so maybe they felt I didn't need to be there, but this was my first pregnancy, and I was bleeding heavily and didn't know what was normal and what wasn't and was told to go to a&e by a nurse on the out of hours number I had been given. Were they qualified to suggest that I shouldn't have been there? I became very emotional because of the receptionists cold unkindness and sobbed as I sat down to wait. I know the NHS is pushed to the limit by the demands of its patients but all I wanted was a little understanding and compassion. I know they spoke to others in front of me in the same way as well. The assessment nurse I was afterwards was very understanding and sympathetic and the subsequent staff I saw much later very informative and attentive, within the confines of a busy a&e and it turned out that I did need some further attention due to a discovery that I had a rare blood group (I hadn't had a blood test before that day) that could have caused further complications if left untreated. I am very dismayed, however, that given the sensitivity of my situation, being scared, hormonal and heartbroken at what was happening, that the first port of call within the a&e was someone who could show no compassion to those of us who were already distressed, in pain and suffering physically and emotionally. Also, because of their accusatory suggestion that I shouldn't have been there at all, I almost left without treatment, which it turned out I did need.

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Responses

Response from Eastbourne District General Hospital

We are deeply saddened and concerned to read about your poor experience of the reception staff at Eastbourne DGH and we would dearly like an opportunity to speak with you to apologise in person. This would also help us to gather more information to enable us to take appropriate action. If you are willing to speak to us, please contact our Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS) on 01323 435886 or by email at esh-tr.PALSE@nhs.net. PALS are a confidential service who will liaise with relevant staff on your behalf to investigate issues or concerns. We are very sorry that you were not shown compassion when you booked into the A&E Department. This is completely unacceptable and we take this matter very seriously. As a Trust, it's always our aim to provide patients with caring and compassionate high quality care but we clearly let you down on this occasion. Thank you for taking the time to let us know what happened. Please be assured that your posting will be shared with key staff and acted upon.