"Poor overall experience: rude and aggressive staff..."

About: Addenbrooke's Hospital

What I liked

I went to A&E at Addenbrookes on the evening of 30 April at about 10pm with either shingles or adult chickenpox. This had been diagnosed in advance by doctor members of my family, who couldn't then prescribe and who recommended I go to A&E so that I could receive treatment within the appropriate time from onset of systems. I was clerked in very quickly and put in an isolation room. Receptionists and clerking nurse were very pleasant and efficient. The junior sister who checked me in was extremely pleasant and friendly, professional and should be commended. She agreed that it looked like I had chickenpox. I would be grateful if this commendation could be passed on as she was a delight to deal with.

What could be improved

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. I waited from after 10pm to midnight in an isolation room with no update as to what was going on or when I might be seen. By this point, I was also having an upset tummy but there was no one around to advise of this . At approximately midnight a physician's assistant came in. I had previously been advised that I would have bloods taken. However, instead of doing this in the way I would have expected, she put a canula in my arm, took some bloods and then started injecting something into my arm. She provided no explanation as to what she was doing. When my partner expressed some concern as to why a canula was being put in my arm and what was going on, she just said that a nurse had told her to do it, and carried on regardless of concerns being expressed. No proper explanation was given, nor did she pause. At the end, I did not know what was injected into my arm and was concerned about this. (I had to seek clarification later from medical relatives).

My partner also enquired, pleasantly, how long it would be before we might be seen again.

A few minutes later a nurse came in, and very rudely and aggressively stated that "she heard we had been asking questions about why there was a canula", and that this was done to save time for them. She then further stated that she could not give an estimate of time as she had to treat cases that were "actual priorities". Her manner was extremely rude, condescending, and aggressive. Both myself and my partner were made to feel that we were an inconvenience, and that it had been inappropriate to question what was going on.

After waiting another 15-20 minutes with no further information, eventually both myself and my partner went out into the corridor so that I could self-discharge. I removed my own canula and informed staff I was leaving.

Anything else?

By asking another nurse on the way out I managed to speak with the nurse who had been unpleasant to me. She would not initially volunteer her name, but did so when challenged. When it became clear that I intended to complain about her, she apologised and said that she had not intended to come across in the way that she had. I gave her a chance to explain. Sadly, at this point - when it became clear that both my partner and I were articulate professionals - no fewer than 3 members of staff appeared and were ready to assist us. It is extremely troubling that this seemed to be the only way to get assistance. The nurse at this point suggested that she could help and/or get us seen.

Under the circumstances, I left and will seek treatment elsewhere in the morning.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Addenbrooke's Hospital

We were very sorry to learn of your experience. We appreciate that it would be inappropriate to name individual staff on this forum but it would be very helpful to allow us to follow up properly if you could share further details via pals@addenbrookes.nhs.uk and please mention then you were requested to do so via this page. We sincerely hope that you have found alternative treatment but are saddened that it was necessary for you to do so. Irrespective of any further contact from you we shall follow up with the Emergency Department management team to look into the issues on shift at 10pm on April 30.

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