"Awful - if Amazon ran the NHS...."

About: Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

I was taken by ambulance on Monday 3 July after having very severe abdominal pains since 11pm the night before. I rand my GP out of hours and this was what they recommend. I hadn't slept all night and felt very disorientated. It took an hour to get there which didn't help. When I got there I was given blood tests and pain relief - the pain relief didn't have any impact on the pain - in fact the pain increased. I was left in a room with no contact, watching the staff chatting, and eating. I tried to get off the bed, in agony. No staff came to help. I managed to slide off the bed to go to the toilet. A good time to take a urine sample you would have thought but no, they didn't show any interest. When I got back I couldn't get on the bed - in clear view of the staff I struggled. In the end I had to go out and ask for help. At this hospital, they watch but they don't see. I was then on a bed with only one side guard on - I was frightened of falling off. I have a metal implant in my spine. I was absolutely exhausted but too afraid to sleep. A doctor came and said blood tests were clear, that they needed the bed and that I could wait in reception to be collected. I was a bit taken aback - I was in my pyjamas, my husband was an hours drive away. They then said I could sit at the top of the ward if necessary but I just couldn't sit in the chair - the back was too straight. In terms of diagnostics, they said it could be a number of things, 'get some laxatives on your way home and see your GP in a couple of days if you don't feel better' When I told them the pain was actually getting worse, their reply was 'that's not good is it'. I sat in reception in my pyjamas with people wandering past for an hour till my husband got there. I had to keep moving as the pain was so intense. Then another hour home in the car. I have to be honest and say this was the worst hospital existence I've ever had - no respect for my health or dignity. No warmth or patient care. No attempt to diagnose what was actually wrong with me. Unless you are one step from the morgue this place just isn't a nice place to be. The post script is that today I am still in agony and the GP wants me to go back to this hospital as they think I have a problem with my gallbladder. I told them I couldn't face going to that hospital again unless absolutely necessary. I love our NHS and the people that work in it and in general they do a great job under very constrained financial circumstances. But in my case, this wasn't just about money and resources, it was about attitude and that makes me very sad indeed.

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Response from Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

Dear Lynn,

It brings me great sadness to read your review, this is certainly not how we would want any of our patients to feel. I can imagine this must have been a frightening experience for you. I would really like the opportunity to look further into what happened and make the necessary improvements. Please email me and we can discuss your concerns privately, my email is Annie.Laverty@nhct.nhs.uk.

While I await your response I will discuss your concerns with our A&E team, to make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to ensure our patients are treated with the utmost respect and dignity at all times. It is very worrying that you feel no attempt was made to diagnose your condition, I hope this is no longer the case? I can appreciate that your recent experience may make you feel weary about using our services in the future, but please be assured that we’re here if you need us. It would be good to work with you to regain your confidence in the NHS you love.

Please accept my sincere apologies and I look forward to hearing from you,


Annie Laverty – Director of Patient Experience