"Really disappointed by my experience at Barnsley A&E "

About: Barnsley Hospital / Accident and emergency Barnsley PCT / District nursing

(as the patient),

Back in May, I had an accident which involved boiling hot soup from my blender pouring onto my chest and face and instantly blistering my skin. I spent almost 45minutes stood in the shower under cold water but it was clear within minutes of the accident that I'd need to go to A&E as it was raw, inflammed, my skin had peeled away and blisters were developing infront of my eyes. I was terrified that I would have scars, especially as it was in such an obvious place.

On the drive over to Barnsley, my partner put the fans on cool in the car to relieve the pain but I was still in agony. My skin continued to burn which was a horrible feeling and I looked down at my chest a couple of times on the journey which really worried me because it looked terrible, deep red and purple.

When we arrived, there was no short stay area to park the car just while I went in, so my partner parked up somewhere he shouldn't have just so that he could come in with me.

I approached the reception, and there was a short queue which is absolutely reasonable. Once it got to my turn, which was only a couple of minutes later, the receptionist asked my name, then my age, then my address ... I couldn't believe at this point that the receptionist had not yet asked what was wrong with me. I was stood infront of them in a loose top, holding it away from my skin. I had burns and deep red inflammation on my face and I hadn't realised but I was now shivering which I think was shock. I understand the need to gather information from patients to locate their records etc but I became increasingly frustrated with ridiculous questions. At one point, I was asked about my job. The receptionist asked me to give her my exact job title. By now, I was annoyed. I'm anything but impatient but my skin was still burning and I was in a lot of pain. I would love to know what difference my job title makes to the way I'm treated for severe burns?

The receptionist told me to go to the waiting area, which I did and on arriving I went to their seperate reception desk. The person behind the desk said "Just sit down" before I'd even spoken. Great customer service. My partner asked them whether there was anything we needed to do, or whether they could give us any idea of how long we'd wait to be seen, not to be rude, but just so that my partner could move the car but not miss any of the consultation. The receptionist, in answer to his question, said "Just sit down". I don't think that anyone could disagree that this is an appauling way to treat patients who, by the very nature of being at A&E, have had an accident, and or are in a lot of pain.

We sat down and waited for 10 or so minutes. Thank goodness for a lovely lady in the waiting area who told us that we needed to take our notes around the corner where the triage nurse was stood. My partner took it round, and she was absolutely right. Shame really that the person on the A&E reception desk couldn't have told me this - it seems to me that this is the very least that this person should be doing, informing people of the process. I've never been to A&E before, this was entirely new territory for me so I'd never have known. How long would we have sat there had this lovely lady not told us what we needed to do?

So, about 15 minutes later the triage nurse (Julian) called me round to speak to him. He was fantastic, I have nothing but positive things to say about him. Bearing in mind that the triage area wasn't very private, and my burn was on my chest right into my cleavage, he was very careful to ensure I felt dignified. He assessed the burns and told me that they were pretty serious, and needed to be seen to quickly. His manner was polite, respectful, sympathetic and kind. He wasn't able to tell me when I'd be seen but said it would be within 15minutes. He asked if I'd like any pain relief, but I'd already taken ibrupofen at home.

I went back into the waiting room and said to my partner that I wished Julian could treat me rather than anyone else because I trusted him and had a good feeling about him.

About 10 minutes later, I was called into the treatment room by a doctor who looked at my chest and said that they were very severe. He said that they were second degree burns and that there were two areas that he was worried would scar. I'm only 26, and often wear outfits that expose the top of my chest so was really gutted to hear that. I didn't like this doctors manner. It's not that he was rude but he seemed flippant, and barely looked me in the eye which made me feel awkward. He went on to make a joke about his wife, who had once burnt her bum and he'd laughed - didn't fill me with confidence. I know it was only a joke but I was still in a lot of pain and worried about the scarring so couldn't really find it funny.

The doctor left the room and shortly afterwards, Julian came in. It was a very pleasant surprise. He explained that he used to work in the Burns unit and so was the best person to treat me. This made me feel so much better.

The burns covered my chest and breasts so he explained that I would need to be topless for him to dress the wounds. He asked if I felt comfortable with this and offered a female member of staff if I preferred. I really appreciated being asked, although I wasn't worried - if he was a burns specialist, as far as I was concerned he was the best person to treat me.

He reassured me that the burns would heal, and gave advice about how to take care of them after I'd left A&E. He made a fantastically sophisticated dressing so that it was comfortable for me and explained absolutely everything as he did it. At no point did I feel rushed, I think he picked up on me feeling worried and shocked, and took time to put me at ease.

I left with a clear idea of what to do over the coming weeks, and he'd advised I see the district nursing team in a couple of days for them to check the wounds and potentially redress it.

Julian single handedly maintained the reputation of the A&E for me. In my opinion, every other element of my experience was a bit of a disgrace. I am still, a few months later, appalled at the attitude of both receptionists. To ask my full job title before asking what was wrong with me... where's the logic in that?

Just as a side note, I then saw the district nursing team in Penistone a couple of days later and they were lovely. They didn't need to do anything, and complimented Julian's handywork with the dressing which they were equally as impressed with!

I really hope my compliments reach Julian, because he deserves the praise. I also hope that if and when I have the misfortune to need to go to A&E again, I will not have to stand at the door being questioned about my every life detail before they establish how seriously I need treatment.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››