"Nothing"

About: Airedale General Hospital

What I liked

Nothing

What could be improved

The only person involved in the entire process at A&E whose first language is English, was the "NHS Direct" nurse, and the receptionist in the A&E department, who seemingly was as frustrated as the patients.

I couldn't get an appointment at my doctor's for another two days, and as I had sustained a pretty severe head injury a couple of days before, and was suffering symptoms of brain trauma, I was very concerned so I called NHS Direct. After listing my symptoms, they advised me to go straight to A&E.

After registering with the receptionist, I was asked to attend triage, where I was dealt with by a member of staff - English was his second language. I explained that I had spoken to NHS Direct and they had advised me to come directly to A&E.

I tried to explain what my symptoms were, which was quite a lengthy list, but he seemed to have trouble understanding, and made very little notes.

I was then asked to wait in the waiting room. Shortly afterwards, I was asked to go through to a cubicle to see the Doctor. On entering the cubicle, there was a very, very tired looking doctor, sprawled on a chair, and a student nurse. For both, English is their second language - and their primary language is different to that of the triage nurse.

This is where it became apparent that communication is a big issue in this department. The triage nurse's interpretation of my symptoms beared no resemblance to what I had told him, and so the Doctor made assumptions about my health based on his watered-down notes.

The Doctor then had trouble understanding my husband, who also uses English as his second language - but again, a different primary language to the triage nurse, doctor, and student nurse.

It was like a comedy of errors. The Doctor was not interested in listening to my symptoms, and dismissed me. She handed me a head injury advice sheet, which literally spelled out all of the symptoms I was having, which advises you to go straight to A&E.

Anything else?

I questioned the Doctor's opinion, and explained that at least 6 of the symptoms I was experiencing were written in black and white on the advice sheet - which says to immediately visit A&E.

However, apparently I am mistaken, as although it doesn't actually say it, the sheet doesn't mean if you have symptoms, it means if you have any symptoms that are so severe you cannot function - as in, "confusion where I don't know who I am."

If I were that confused, I wouldn't be reading the stupid (and clearly pointless) sheet now, would I??!?!

It is very clear to me, that the staff working in the A&E department do not have a sufficient knowledge of the English language to be able to communicate effectively, not only with each other, but with the patients of the department.

They are literally lost in translation - it's like chinese whispers - they lose so much information from one staff member to the next that what comes out of the other end is nothing like what was actually started!

Story from NHS Choices

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