About: Southampton General Hospital / Accident and emergency

For the second time in a week, I ended up in A&E after suffering for 12 days with severe abdominal pain. Both times I was seen in a reasonable time however on both occasions I was completely fobbed off. The first time a guess was made at a diagnosis of gallstones, and I was told I would have to wait two weeks for the GP referred ultrasound I was due, that they couldn't do one, despite a scanner being sat by the doctors desk. I was sent home with more powerful painkillers. After not coping with the pain and not being able to wait 2 weeks for a scan

I booked an ultrasound with ultrasound direct (that showed my gall bladder was perfectly fine), still in pain I returned to A&E. This time seen by a medical student who took my history and examined me, then a junior doctor who told me my bloods were fine except a slightly raised number for my pancreas. The junior doctor then examined me causing even more pain. The junior doctor said they were going to get me some more painkillers and contact the surgical team to come see me. Next thing I know, a nurse appears with gaviscon. I questioned as I was expecting a painkiller, they said the doctor had requested I have this, at which point a second nurse appeared and said I was going home. Only when they could see that I was very confused did the doctor decide to come speak to me them-self.

The junior doctor told me the senior doctor said it was an inflamed stomach lining and that only gaviscon would help (I had no scans or tests to back this diagnosis). When I questioned going home the doctor said there was nothing more they could do. I explained that after 12 days in agony barely able to eat or drink (having lost 6lb) I was reluctant to go home still in agony. The doctor said I had no choice, but they could prescribe more painkillers. I explained I had painkillers and they weren't helping. The doctor said I needed an antacid, so they would write to my GP and see if they would prescribe it. I asked why the doctor couldn't prescribe it and they said because they didn't have my full notes. I explained that I had given a full history to the medical student and that given my GP had not been privy to their diagnosis the doctor would be equally in the dark about prescribing antacids. The doctor said they would leave me to see how the gaviscon helped, the nurse came to see me and asked, I said the pain was no different, they went and spoke to the doctor, who A) would not come and speak to me them-self and B) would do nothing further. Overall disgusted at the treatment I have had in this A&E. I overhead a member of staff telling a relative that each patient must be out of A&E within 4 hours of stepping in, as my 4 hours was nearly up I can only assume I was fobbed off so they wouldn't miss a target.

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Response from Acting Head of Complaints, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Clair

I am very sorry to hear of your experiences and to hear that you felt that you were fobbed off and your pain not managed. If you would like to contact Patient Support Services here at UHS we can investigate your complaint fully and provide you with a detailed and individual repsonse.

In terms of the four hour target, that is there to ensure patients are seen and start recieving treatment without an unreasonable wait and in no way reflects an aim to move pepople out of the emergency department either to admit them into a hospital bed or discharge them home, when it is not safe or resonable to do so.

I am sorry that you were under the impression that the reason you were discharged was in anyway related to this target.

We are on email at patientsupportservices@uhs.nhs.uk