"The HDU was relatively calm and ..."
About: St George's Hospital (Tooting) (London) St George's Hospital (Tooting) (London) London SW17 0QT
What I liked
The HDU was relatively calm and well-staffed, with friendly nurses communicating well. The nurses in A&E tried hard to paper over the cracks and I thank them for trying. The wait for triage in A&E was about an hour - not too bad in general although in this case triage was unnecessary.
What could be improved
My friend was an urgent referal from their GP that morning to the surgical-on-call team. She was seriously ill. However, she was still made to wait over an hour for nurse triage in A&E (a total waste of time and money given that she'd already been seen by a local doctor). The receptionists were cold and abrasive, and gave as little information as possible. During the wait my friend's condition deteriorated, and when the nurse did see her he realised immediately that there was a problem so took her into what I think was called the 'resuscitation' area. This was a five trolley area staffed by two nurses and various doctors, some of whom were clearly locums as the nurses were introducing themselves. There were various other non-uniformed staff whose contribution was not clear. The atmosphere between doctors and nurses was tense and snappy; communication with patients was patchy and with relatives was non-existant (two ladies sitting just outside this area had waited 6 hours for any news about their 92-year old mother/ grand-mother; they had also had the very uncomfortable situation of having overheard enough conversation about one man involved in a road accident that they knew how serious his condition was but didn't know what they should tell his wife when she arrived, because nobody was talking to her). My friend's condition was stabilised in A&E. She was scheduled and waited for a CT scan but there was later a change of direction. I was told several times that they were looking for a ward bed but, between her condition being serious and there being no bed available, HDU was preferred. Once my friend was transferred to HDU things improved a great deal. I'm very grateful to the staff in A&E for what they achieve, but the chaotic circumstances in which they are working are, frankly, dangerous. I should add that I work in healthcare and am very accustomed to hospital environments.
In three visits to the hopsital covering about six hours I did not see one single member of staff use alcohol hand gel. Whilst waiting in the resuscitation area I had an IV trolley pushed into me, saw a very heavy metal object (some kind of ramp) knocked over just behind a door where it could easily have hit somebody, and saw a nurse kick a tray of supplies right out of a trolley in frustration. It wasn't a great performance.