"When i visited the emergency assistant..."

About: The Royal Victoria Infirmary

What I liked

When i visited the emergency assistant unit at the R.V.I, on thursday 9 September, at 4.30hrs the nursing staff and receptionist were friendly and understanding of my breathing problems, I have asthma, which was worse because of a chest infection which I was recovering from. I have an allergic reaction to static dust, when a room is hot and there is no ventilation. No windows to open. I asked a nurse were I could obtain a bottle of water, as the waiting room was hot with no ventilation. They kindly brought me a jug of water. The double doors to the outside, had to be opened by pressing a button, the receptionist would then open the doors. when I needed to go out side, for some fresh air, the receptionist opened the doors for me. that was until, a new receptionist came on shift at 7hrs. That is when my nighmare began.

What could be improved

At the R.V.I emergency Assistant Unit. the second lot of double doors from the outside and the doors past reception which go to the coffee shop and toilets, have to opened by the receptionist, when you press a button. If the receptionist does not open the doors for you, you are trapped in the unit. The waiting room is small, with a lack of chairs, it is very hot , with no ventilation. one in 3 people have asthma, yet when the receptionists changed there shifts at 7hrs, the new receptionist refused to open the door to the outside for me, even though they could see and hear I was suffering from breathing problems. I explained I needed to get outside to obtain some fresh air, I explained I had asthma. They were rude and dismissive and give no explanation to why they would not open the doors. They stated if i needed to get outside, they would only open the door which lead to the coffee shop, there was a door which lead outside from there. MyI breathing was getting worse, I had left my partner in the waiting room, he thought I was outside getting some air. he was waiting in case my name was called. I had to go down a corridor to the coffee shop, half way down, I panicked I felt i was going to have an asthma attack, I was on my own. I went back to the emergency waiting room, I explained to my partner, that I could not get outside, My partner tried he was rejected, he asked the receptionist, if they could open the door, to the coffee shop, so he could get a bottle of cold water for me, as this sometimes helped my asthma, when I am in a hot place. I heard the reply to him,. Their words were, in an angry tone - You will have to wait. I had been polite to this receptionist, my partner had been polite, why were they not? My partner later came back with water for me, I was having a coughing fit, my chest was on fire, we spoke to a head nurse, who let me outside, and stated I should ask for them, if I needed to go outside again.

Anything else?

I was there until 10hrs, in that time my chest was on fire, I was having coughing fits because of the stale air, I needed to go outside again, my partner was very angry, I stated I needed to leave. He said you need to see a doctor we have been waiting all this time. We will just have to do this all again if we leave know. I looked for the nurse to let me out for some air. I could not find them. I spoke to another nurse, who refused to open the doors. When I eventually seen a doctor, we both voiced our concerns, what about the health and safety of the patient. the disability of a patient is not taken in to consideration. What if there was a fire, the receptionist had left the reception desk on more than one occasion and there was not a nurse to be seen. All patients were locked in unless a nurse with a key card let us out or the receptionist.

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Response from The Royal Victoria Infirmary

First may I thank you for the positive comments regarding the initial experience on the Unit.

This Emergency Assessment Unit is a very busy environment for patients, relatives and staff, which we know can be stressful. Many of the patients being assessed on the Unit have multiple health care needs and are often deemed vulnerable. This requires that the Unit has restricted access and exit, in order to protect this vulnerable group. It is therefore vital that the patients cannot exit the department without the staff knowing. Access and exit from the Unit can be by either door. We know this can be difficult for patients and their relatives but would like to assure you that it is vital in maintaining the safety of patients. We are sorry that this was not explained to you, and that you felt the staff were rude and dismissed your concerns. We have also taken seriously your comments that the Reception staff’s behaviour was unhelpful and we assure you that your concerns have been discussed with her.

There is only one Receptionist in the Unit and on occasions they may have to leave the desk to communicate with members of staff, but there are always staff in the vicinity. We do review the activity of this post and will take your comments into consideration. We can also assure you that the Nursing staff, who were delivering direct patient care nearby, are always available should the need arise.

Within the Unit we are currently unable to open the windows due to building work in the immediate vicinity. The Unit is temperature controlled and the staff can and do contact the Estates Department so that it can be altered as required. Electric fans can be located near the waiting area to increase air circulation should they be required, and we apologise if this was not suggested at the time of your attendance.

We do thank you for raising your concerns and I would like to assure you that the issues raised have been discussed with the Senior Sister on the Unit.

If you would like to discuss these concerns further, please contact Mr Paul Anderson, Patient Relations Manager, on 0191 233 616.

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