"St Peters Hospital, Chertsey A+E"

About: NHS Direct NHS Trust South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust St Peter's Hospital (Chertsey)

(as the patient),

Previous to the occasion in question, the only time I have been admitted to St Peters Hospital or to any hospital in fact was when I had my daughter 2 years ago.

One the night in August 2012 I was doing a night shift at work. After a very manic and stressful day I had to call a colleague to come in and after this I went to sleep in the flat above where I work.

At approximatly 2am I woke up feeling very nauseous and was consequently sick. After vomiting I experienced excruciating stomach cramps/pains. I waited for an hour to see if this would subside but it only got worse. When I got to the point that my clothes were soaked in sweat and I was hyperventilating with the pain, I decided to call NHS Direct.

They were very helpful and sympathetic and the nurse I spoke to advised me to call a taxi or else an ambulance straight away as I could hardly speak and was screaming in pain down the phone and get to A+E as soon as possible.

I said I would call a taxi as there was no way I wanted to call out an ambulance just for me. The pain then got so bad that I knew I couldnt expect a taxi driver to get me to hospital as I was vomiting, screaming and I couldnt move out of the foetal position on the bathroom floor let alone walk in and out of a taxi.

I tried contacting friends and family but at 3am no one had their phones on.

In the end I desperately called 999 and asked for an ambulance. I then realised I would have to go to the front door of the flat to let them in. It took me 10 minutes to crawl a few feet to the door and after managing to leave the door ajar I collapsed on the floor which was where the paramedics found me.

I was distraught as I couldnt get up to alarm the practise and had to leave my own dog in the bedroom alone. Having no choice I agreed to go to A+E.

The paramedic then told me to "get up and get in the ambulance". This is bearing in mind I have collapsed on the floor in the doorway when they found me, am having trouble breathing due to the pain and cannot stand even to set the alarms to the practise. Also considering how everyone commented that when I was in labour on how quiet I was - I didn't scream or moan...this shows just how much pain I was in now!

In the end, with no help from either paramedic I half crawled into the ambulance in terrible pain as this made it so much worse. Just a hand up or an arm to hold onto would have been helpful.

I was given gas and air in the ambulance...I didnt even need this when I was in labour with my daughter so this shows just how excruciating this pain was. After a few breaths of this I informed the paramedic that I would rather not use it as I was already nauseous and the gas and air was making this a lot worse. I was told by the paramedic in a patronising tone "Well its better than nothing isnt it? " and he carried on with his paperwork.

At this point I am terrified having never been in a situation like this or in as much pain as this in my life, but receive no comfort or sense of care from the paramedics - I felt like they thought I was faking it all and that I was a waste of their time.

Once at St Peters A+E department, one of the paramedics went to get a wheelchair. I then had the worse cramping pain yet and was screaming in pain. During this the paramedic carried on without a glance with his paperwork and when the other one came with the wheelchair, was told to "hop out and get in the wheelchair". I was soaked in sweat from the pain, hyperventilating again and now crying in fear and pain. I couldnt speak due to the extent of the wave of pain to ask for at least some help to get down of the ambulance and into the chair but even seeing my pain and distress was impatiently and repeatedly told to "hurry up and get out" of the ambulance.

I can understand a drunken, drugged up, hysterical person being treated like this but not a 28 year old whos never been to A+E by ambulance before and is clearly scared and distressed.

Once in A+E, I crawled onto the trolley again with no help and tried to keep myself as quiet as I could.

The nurses came straight away to put an IV line in and do an ECG...I wasn't told why I needed an ECG and was in too much pain at the time to question anything. The nurses I saw at this initial time were friendly, caring and efficient.

I was then left for a while alone when a new symptom of severe diarrhoea added to my trouble. Bent over in pain and crying in distress by now I found my way to the other end of the ward to the toilet at least 4 times with no help or query from any member of staff. I wasn't asked at any time if I wanted anyone phoned or if I had any family aware of the situation.

Some time later a doctor and nurse came to examine me. The doctor didn't appear to be listening to anything I was saying and after feeling my stomach an abdomen to establish where exactly the pain was, he and the nurse then disappeared without a word to me of any possible diagnosis, plan or treatment. Not a word was said to me, they just disappeared.

A while later ( I am unsure of time-scale due to my distress) a nurse came to do yet another ECG on me...I wasn't told why.

Sometime after this a nurse came to give me Buscapan IV. Again I had no idea what they were treating me for or what was going on. This at least calmed the cramps but I was left in still a lot of pain although not so severe from my abdomen and stomach areas from where they had been cramping for so long and also was extremely nauseous and spent the rest of my time bent over a sick bowl.

A long time later, whilst I was in the middle of vomiting into the bowl, a nurse came with 2 paracetamol tablets. I said there was no way obviously that I couldn't even take them, let alone keep them down! She told me she would go and get me some injectable painkiller and something for the nausea. I never saw a nurse again or either of those drugs.

For the next couple of hours, I was left unattended and uninformed, ignored. I was in and out of consciousness being so exhausted and curled up on the trolley still in a lot of pain and feeling nauseous.

At 8.15am, a doctor I didn't recognise threw open the curtains around my trolley making me jump. He stated simply and gruffly "your bloods are fine, you can go" and walked off.

To be honest I thought I must have missed something or that he would come back - I was dazed, nauseous and hadn't been given any idea whatsoever of what I had or may have to cause me to be there.

I laid back down trying to work out what to do and after 10 minutes or so, was told again to leave A+E. I was in my night clothes, had no shoes, no money and had taken my contacts out at work so couldn't see clearly further than a few feet. A+E was now empty of patients.

In a confused and scared state, I wandered about the department looking for the way out but couldn't see to read any signs. Despite being obviously distressed, no one bothered to come and ask if I was ok or needed help. In the end I asked a cleaner what was the general direction to get out and after picking up a spare sick bowl from reception, found my way outside and sunk down outside the doors of A+E in the cold in my nightclothes and socks. I sat there and cried as I vomited into my sick bowl in a complete panic about what to do. I had no money and couldn't get hold of anyone to pick me up - I didn't know what was wrong with me so was worried about passing it onto my daughter or anyone else if it was a virus. People passed by me and only one person asked if I was ok. I felt like a tramp.

I have to convey that in hindsight I should have been asking questions and standing up for myself but I was in such a confused state and had been made to feel like such an inconvenience and a piece of dirt on everyone's shoes I had no energy or confidence to do so.

I still don't know what was wrong with me that night and when eventually I got hold of my mother in law to pick me up, she was in tears at seeing the state I was in, sat outside on the pavement being sick into a cardboard bowl. I also realised a bit later on that I had been left with the sticky ECG tabs all over me!

Its taken until for it all to sink in and now I would like some sort of explanation for being treated so disgustingly. I work two jobs to make ends meet, I have a daughter, a partner and stepsons to provide for. I can tell you now, no matter how underpaid, overworked, exhausted, stressed and emotional I have been, and I have been all of the above at times, I would NEVER expect an ANIMAL to be treated the way I was.

I am known by friends, family and work colleagues for being hard-working and never complaining, I work over 50 hours a week and am hardly ever off sick. I am NOT a drunk, a drug addict, a young single mum wanting attention or someone who just wanted a ride in an ambulance! I did not deserve to be treated like a waste of time and space.

Although being well again physically a few days after the event, it's taken until now for me to have the confidence to write this. I never normally complain and never have even after a shocking experience at St Peters whilst having my daughter. But I just did not deserve this and am now left paranoid it's going to happen again and I know I'll think twice about ever going to A+E again - someone will gave to drag me kicking and screaming...lets just hope it wont be for anything serious

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Response from Anna Scott, Communications Officer, Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

We are very sorry that your experience of the ambulance service and the emergency department at St Peter’s Hospital was not better. We have forwarded your comments to South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) and they would like to invite you to contact their Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 01737 363866 to discuss this further.

We expect our staff to treat patients with dignity and compassion from the moment they arrive in hospital and you clearly feel this was not the case during your visit. We never want to hear that a patient has been badly communicated with during their stay and discharged feeling the way you describe. Your experience is of grave concern to us and we are taking your feedback very seriously. We have been trying to contact you so we can investigate what happened and would be grateful if you can call A&E Sister, Kaye Finch, on 01932 723364 to arrange a meeting.

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