"Visit to Childrens' A&E department"

About: Watford General Hospital

My 7 year old son was referred to A&E after being diagnosed as being dehydrated. We arrived at approx. 7.15pm (straight from GP). When we arrived the department was full (standing room only with nurses shouting for adults to stand to let the children (patients) sit down). It was clear that some people waiting were abusing the system by visiting A&E instead of their GP which added to the wait!

As my son was referred by the GP he should have been prioritised - he did not get assessed in triage for over an hour (8.30pm), where I was advised that he had a temperature which had developed within the 3 hours of us leaving home but not given any medicine for it. We were just told that we needed to wait to see the doctor.

At 9.45pm I said that he was even hotter and asked for him to be checked - after about 15 mins a nurse did check him, confirming that his temperature had increased and he was finally given paracetamol and rehydration medicine. We eventually saw the doctor at 10.30pm who advised us to just give our son water instead of the rehydration solution (as he didn't like the taste). Unfortunately after getting our son to drink some water he vomited across the waiting room floor, a nurse wiped it up with absorbent mats and called for a cleaner. We were shocked to see the cleaner use a brush to sweep through the dirty area and then across the rest of the floor spreading germs. They then used a dry mop and hand spray to clean the area! Our son was eventually admitted to be put on a drip at 1.15am and the nurses on the Starfish ward were lovely.

He was discharged the next day and the doctor did tell us that he was better off at home as he was likely to catch a bug in hospital. Even on Starfish ward we witnessed a cleaner just mop the centre of the ward floor, we did offer to move but were told, no. We were aware that the floor had urine on it during the night but this was left and not cleaned.

Most of the nurses were lovely during our time within the hospital, but they were clearly overstretched as we did not feel that we were dealt with as efficiently as we could have been and were not given any feedback or idea of what was happening.My husband had stayed with our son in hospital and he came down with a bad stomach bug within 30 hours of leaving, we were not surprised after witnessing the poor cleaning regime.

The A&E department was clearly struggling to cope with the number of children to see, but we were left for hours with no feedback. The hospital is dirty and from our experience not cleaned properly.

We heard one nurse tell another parent that it was like working in hell every shift, we can see why - something should be done to ensure that people using A&E instead of going to their GP are turned away and therefore this would ensure that people that are correctly going to A&E are seen quicker.

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Response from Watford General Hospital

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I have passed your comment onto the department.

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