"Unacceptable service"

About: Torbay Hospital

My husband was brought in by ambulance with severe abdominal pain & breathlessness. He was left in the waiting room of A&E for 2 hours still experiencing pain until I made the receptionist aware he was still there. Shortly after we were called over and told if we wheel him along the corridor there would be a spare cubicle for him. I did so on my own, when I got towards the cubicles I asked someone which cubicle was for us and was told it was number 3 but no smile, no eye contact, no help offered and no questions as to what was happening. I managed to get my husband out of the wheelchair onto the bed where we waited a further hour before I then felt it was justified to complain. Up until that point not one person had even checked him or even apologised for the wait although I had to sit and listen to the nurses having a chat about their weekend and plans coming up! When I complained that we had now been in the department for 3 hours, I got a short sharp answer of He's next. Thankfully a very lovely doctor came in who assessed & examined him and was extremely efficient in then getting X-rays & blood tests completed. Luckily my husbands condition improved and we were allowed home after getting the results we were waiting for with instructions to get an ultrasound at our local hospital. We were deeply unsatisfied with the way my husband was treated to begin with, at that point we didn't know what was happening and I had my 8 year old daughter with us who was frightened enough without having to wait for 6 hours+ before we could go home. I completely understand that there are waiting times and other people probably more seriously ill than us however to be brought in by ambulance and then be left for 3 hours before anyone even acknowledged us is completely unacceptable. Even a sorry to keep you would have been appreciated or just a smile but we found most of your staff to be miserable and unsupportive which you don't expect in a situation where you are scared yourself. We also found it unbelievable that there was a small child in the waiting room for hours who had been knocked over by a car and was in severe shock!! The last thing I was unhappy about was the fact that my 8 year old daughter was starving and the hospital has no restaurant or cafe to cater for patients after 8pm.......we must remember to be ill before that in future.

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Response from Sam Holden, Patient Experience Lead, Patient Quality and Safety, South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group

picture of Sam Holden

Dear Becky,

First of all, please accept my sincere apologies for the experience that you had, it is clearly unacceptable to leave you waiting for such a time with no explanation and for staff to come across as rude.

I am glad that when you saw the doctor that they were lovely and efficient, although I do appreciate that this was little comfort after the wait that you had experienced. I am pleased that your husband’s condition improved to the point where you were able to go home, but I can imagine how frightening this must have been.

I also appreciate your comments about the lack of catering facilities and this is something that is being looked at in terms of what we can do to make food and drink available to people at all times.

I would welcome the opportunity to look into and address the concerns you have raised and to be able to provide you with some reassurance and explanation. If you would like me to do this, please contact me by telephone on: 01803 652 578 or by email to: patientfeedback.sdtccg@nhs.net and I would be happy to make some enquiries.

I hope that your husband is making a steady recovery and again, please accept my apologies to you, your husband and your daughter for the poor experience that you had.

Best wishes


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Response from Torbay Hospital

Dear Becky Rose,

We are very sorry to hear about your experience and that the standard of care and attention you and your family received fell below that which we strive to provide. We would like the opportunity to discuss your experience with you and try our best to resolve it.

If you are happy to talk to us about this, please contact our Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS) so they can look into your situation in more detail.

A PALS Officer is available in person, Monday to Friday, between 10.00am and 2.00pm. You can contact them by calling 01803 655838 or on our 24 hour freephone number 0800 02 82 037. If you get through to the voicemail service please leave your contact details and you will receive a call back within three working days.

PALS can also be contacted by Text Phone on 01803 654742, by FAX on 01803 617162, or via email to pals.sdhc@nhs.net (your email will go direct to our PALS Service).

We aim to learn from negative experiences and make improvements for the future - therefore we are grateful to you for taking the time to comment.

We look forward to hearing from you so that we can address the issues you have raised.

South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

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