"Horrendous cleanliness in children's A&E, zero..."

About: Stoke Mandeville Hospital

When you attend an A&E room with a 9 month old baby who has suffered a rapid swelling of the head - after being told to attend urgently by NHS direct - it is highly distressing to wait 1 1/2 hours to be seen by the one and only triage nurse. During the waiting period, there is absolutely no indication of how long it will be until you are seen for an initial assessment. We fully appreciate that understaffing isn't the staff's fault, but keeping patients up to date and informed is.

However, my main reason for feeling compelled enough to leave a complaint is the cleanliness of the children's A&E area. During our 4 1/2 experience, multiple children arrived and had a variety of undiagnosed illnesses, commonly resulting in sickness and vomiting. We watched a number of children violently vomit over the floor, chairs and toys. The parents were typically embarrassed and did their best to clean up after their children, but their best certainly couldn't result in a clean or healthy environment. I felt that we were more likely to leave hospital in considerably worse health than when we arrived.

Where were the cleaners? Where were the staff members checking on all of the children with multiple undiagnosed viruses and illnesses (they had often been provided with sick bowls, so staff knew there would be bodily fluids flying around in the vicinity)? What's the point of having occasional hand sanitising stations when the chairs, floors and objects in the room are covered in vomit and other bodily fluids?

Add to this, the general cleanliness of the floors was disgusting. I can't imagine the room had been cleaned for weeks, the dirt was so embedded. Trip hazards were everywhere, because no staff members ever cleaned up after the patients. My wife and I went to Warwick hospital earlier in the year - the difference in standards and cleaning couldn't be further apart. Cleaners walked the building at extremely regular intervals and seemed proud that the hospital was maintained well.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that you really shouldn't get ill over the weekend. One doctor was available to look after all of the available babies and children? Awful. How much money have I personally contributed via two decades of salary to the NHS to pay for this level of service?

Note - at least there was one positive: The receptionists were friendly and polite, the triage nurse was busy but delightful. The doctor was working non-stop and professional. They're working incredibly hard in a horribly maintained environment with too few staff.

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Response from Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Thank you for your comments.

I am very sorry to learn that you had such a long wait with your baby in the Paediatric A&E Department at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and to read of your concerns about the standards of cleanliness in the department. I can understand how distressing and worrying this experience must have been for you.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust appreciates that feedback from patients and relatives is invaluable in helping us shape how we work in the future. We would be very grateful if you could spare the time to help us understand more about your experience of our services, so that we may have the opportunity to improve our service.

In the meantime, please be assured I will pass your anonymous comments to the relevant manager for the service.

If you are happy to share more detail about your specific experience with us, please contact our dedicated Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01296 316042 or email pals@buckshealthcare.nhs.uk