"Is 7 hours acceptable wait for a child in A&E?"

About: Southend Hospital

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.

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Response from Southend Hospital

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your post and I am sorry to hear of the problems you encountered with the service on this particular Sunday.

I cannot comment specifically to your case without personal identifiable information but as a whole we are experiencing a very high volume of patients into our Emergency Department, including patients that come in through the back via ambulance.

I cannot apologise more for the distress, as a parent you must have been under and ensure you I will be sending your comments to the relevant management team for them to review.

If, however you would like this to be investigated in full I suggest you contact our complaints team who will be able to look further into this which is not something I am able to do via this site - Complaints can be contacted on complaints@southend.nhs.uk or write to Sue Hardy, Chief Executive of the Trust.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us and wishing your daughter well and a speedy recovery.


Patient Involvement Team

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