"Lack of wheelchairs and assistance"

About: Charing Cross Hospital

My brother who has advanced brain cancer needed to attend hospital for an MRI scan last Wednesday. He finds walking very difficult, gets tired and needs assistance. When we arrived at the hospital we could not get a wheelchair as he had not been taken by an ambulance and the care home he is in had not booked a wheelchair. I asked at reception for a wheelchair and was told there would be an indefinite wait and was passed on to another office. Two members of staff in the office were on the phone and there was another person waiting in front of me. A porter came in with a wheelchair and sat down, I asked if I could use the chair, explaining my dilemma, they said no that it was allocated elsewhere but the porter just remained there eating an ice cream!!! The person at the desk said that they couldn't get a wheelchair giving the same reasons as the receptionist and that I was to go back to main desk! By now, although having arrived well in advance, my brother's apt time was nearing and he hadn't yet been booked in. Again, I explained my dilemma to the receptionist who said there were people ahead of us and the wait would be at least an hour. I decided to go to the MRI unit, leaving my very sick brother downstairs. The receptionist on the unit was very helpful, they booked my brother in and organised a wheelchair that was on the unit and someone to go and get my brother with me. Sadly, there was another elderly man sitting downstairs with my brother who was very upset that the wheelchair was not for him - he didn't have anybody with him to speak up for him. The escalator has been out for months, the lifts are often out of service and you have to be strong to fight your way into one when it arrives.

There must be more help for patients who are elderly weak and find mobility difficult. The lack of wheelchairs and complacency of staff ( they're so used to this complaint that they have become indifferent and unsympathetic to a persons needs) is outrageous. I realise wheelchairs go missing but charge a deposit or have a supermarket trolley system, where there's a will there is a way. The staff on the MRI unit were excellent but getting my brother there was difficult unnecessary and difficult for him. He is a young man terminally ill, if he had fallen in the hospital whose responsibility would it have been then? I think there should be some investigation on how big this problem is within the hospital, I think the powers that be might be shocked at there findings. It is unacceptable to have a hospital that is unattainable to patients. Also, when submitting this form why is the main reception not listed in departments visited, they is the first port of call and line of defence which is extremely difficult for some patients to get past. This is where my complaint lies, with the reception porters and lack of assistance.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Charing Cross Hospital

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is very concerned about your feedback posted on NHS Choices and wishes to sincerely apologise to you and your brother for the lack of support by the Receptionist and the delay in getting a wheelchair and Porter at Charing Cross Hospital.

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) has passed on your comments to the relevant service managers.

We would like to encourage you to contact PALS on either 0203 313 0088 or email pals@imperial.nhs.uk

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