"left to sit in St Helier A&E"

About: St Helier Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as a relative),

My elderly father was suffering from dizziness. He couldn't stand up. Ambulance had to take him to St Helier. When he got there they sat him on a chair in A&E waiting room holding a sick bowl that he had thrown up in. He was dizzy lying down so they thought it was ok to let him sit. After complaining three times the sister was called. Sister said I understand the patient has not eaten all day. Where they got this I have no clue.

Once he could lie down he was better and then docs and nurses were good. But seriously could the front line staff we saw not have used some sense? I am from a poor third world country. I have paid my taxes. We also experienced disgusting service at reception.

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


Response from Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

Thank you for taking the time to let us have feedback about the care your father received in the A&E department at St Helier Hospital.

Based on latest figures, the average time is takes for us to assess a patient's health (upon arrival in our A&Es) is 11 minutes. Moreover, the average wait for their 'definitive treatment' by a senior, decision-making clinician was 57 minutes.

From the comments you have made, it would seem it took a lot longer than this on the day you visited. This might be because it was busier than usual and/or patients with more serious conditions were being seen in order of priority. It's important to note that the St Helier Hospital A&E sees approximately 82,000 patients a year.

As you can imagine, it isn't possible for us to explain the reason for the delay in your father's care without further information, for instance his name and the date he was admitted. As such, if you would like us to investigate it further, please contact our PALS (patient advice and liaison service) team. You can email pals@esth.nhs.uk or visit: www.eppsom-sthelier.nhs.uk/pals.

Thank you again for letting us have feedback about the care your father received.

Pippa Hart

Director of Nursing

Update posted by Mole321 (a relative)

Dear Pippa

Thank you for your prompt response to my posting. It is very much appreciated.

I must stress that I have complete empathy for the tremendous pressure and strain placed on A&E services in these current times. I always try to use my judgement before even contemplating contacting any emergency services or going to A&E. I take on board your comments about average times for triage and seeing a doctor. Yes indeed this was a busy period as it was a weekend. However, my father's extreme dizziness started around 5pm. By 6pm I decided to call the ambulance as I worried about what was going on and how I could get him to A&E. He could not stand up. The ambulance came at 8.30pm, 2.5 hours later! Again I was considerate and did not make a fuss as I was happy that help would arrive at some point.

My issue is with the treatment and lack of dignity and respect shown when he was brought into A&E. Again I get that no beds were available.

However to sit a 73 year old man suffering with severe dizziness holding a sick bowl that he had already thrown up in on a chair in the waiting area is unacceptable. Your staff made him feel even worse by sitting rather than lying down! How would you feel if this was your father?

It does not cost money to help your staff use some initiative and consider that it may not be the best thing for a person suffering with dizziness to just sit in chair. Why is it OK for staff to think that unless you are not breathing your problem is not important enough?

I had to complain three times. I was told that a triage nurse would see him? I questioned what difference that would make? He had already been assessed by competent ambulance crew! Perhaps it is high time that A&E waiting areas had a few spots where people could lie down until being seen?

You mention average wait times, however, this means very little when you are told that even after being brought in by an ambulance that you have to wait another three hours! So your statistics do not really mean much on a weekend. Quote weekend stats not average stats.

After complaining it appears that the wrong information was communicated. The sister was told that my father had not eaten anything all day! Anybody would feel dizzy if this were the case do you not think? It was completely inaccurate. A diabetic 73 year old man not eating all day. You had his blood sugar readings which said 6.5.

The bottom line is he had inflammation of the Labyrinth (inner ear). So something was very much wrong and on this occasion coming to A&E was the right thing to do. No out of hours service could have helped.

Once given a bed your staff were superb. The attending nurse was excellent, the doctor was excellent, the nurse was excellent in listening to my complaint. The treatment given was spot on. He was right as rain once given the right treatment.

However, the initial treatment and dealings were awful and I do not understand why this has to be the case. I would hate for anyone else to suffer the indignity that my father went though.

I shall be logging an official complaint with PALS to ensure that help is improved.

Response from Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

Thank you for coming back to me and for confirming that you will be contacting our PALS team.

I am sorry that you are having to do this, but it will help us to fully understand what happened on the day your father came to A&E and to look into his case in more detail. Crucially, it will allow us to understand what went wrong and to see how we can stop it happening again.

As you can imagine, we expect each and every patient to be afforded the utmost privacy and dignity in our hospitals and to receive the very best case. It is clear from the information you have provided that we didn't get it right with your father and I sincerely apologise for this.

I have told our PALS team to expect your correspondence and have asked them to respond as quickly as possible.

Thank you again for taking the time to comment on Patient Opinion.

Pippa Hart

Director or Nursing