"Emergency services before getting to A&E."

About: New Cross Hospital

Today, 19.11.15, my son and I visited my son's father, Chris. He has been an alcoholic for about 23 years and has a severe alcohol dependence and lives alone. He was unable to bear his own weight or crawl. His last drink was yesterday and he was suffering alcohol withdrawal symptoms, tremors, hallucinations, incontinence and nausea. In the past when in this state he has suffered seizures, so we rang the emergency services as we were afraid he would have a seizure. The person I spoke to spoke to Chris who was able to answer simple questions relating to himself. At the end of their assessment they told me that his condition was not life threatening and they would not send an ambulance or a paramedic. They said a paramedic would ring us who recommended we get in touch with his doctor. This we duly did but they would not home visit and suggested we ring emergency services again or take him to A&E ourselves. The latter suggestion was impossible as he could not move. So we rang emergency services again and this time spoke to someone more helpful who sent out a paramedic. When they arrived they took one look at Chris and said that he needed to go to hospital. In due course this eventually ensued.

My complaint is that the first member of staff did not consider his condition serious enough to go to hospital, despite the probability that he would have a seizure and was unable to move and thus get himself food or water or go to the toilet. They seemed to be suggesting that he would have to have a seizure (and possibly die) before he was considered to be an emergency. Surely this cannot be acceptable, even if he did not tick all their boxes, where was their common sense and compassion? They further said that if he was their father they would be prepared to stay with him for a week to make sure he was all right. This, in my view, was entirely inappropriate, they know nothing about our relationship with him or the circumstances of his dwelling, aren't they supposed to be objective and non-judgemental?

Perhaps retraining is needed or a review of your emergency protocols.

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Responses

Response from The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments relating to your son's father. I am sorry for any distress that this matter has caused.

Can you please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01902 695362 to discuss this matter further.

Kindest regards

Judith Davis

Patient Experience Services Manager