"Is 7 hours acceptable wait for a child in A&E?"
About: Southend Hospital Southend Hospital Westcliff-on-Sea SS0 0RY
In the early hours of Sunday 13th March I took my 12 year old into the hospital with complaints of tightness in the chest and heavy breathing (she is asthmatic) after being told to go there by the 111 service. The dept was full of patients and no one was being called to be seen - one man was telling everyone he had been there since 6pm! After nearly an hour we were called to see the triage nurse who then warned us the wait to see a GP was seven hours! I asked could we go to the out-of-hours clinic next door (111 had told us there was a 4 hour wait to be seen there) but the nurse informed us that they were unable to speak directly to that team and had to go via a switchboard in Ipswich. The previous night they had made several calls to that team and out of the 100 or so patients they saw, only 2 were given an out-of-hours appointment! In their words: "The system is broken." In the end I took my daughter home to bed and to the doctors next day - but I did dread her waking up unable to breathe and trying to get her back down the hospital quickly. If it had been an emergency I dread to think what could have been the outcome if so. Never before have I seen such chaos in an A&E dept where people even with breathing issues are told to wait that long! In the past I was assessed by A&E for chest pain and seen immediately and all tests done quickly. This is a hospital that no longer functions.