"Recent Experience of having to attend Tameside Hospital Casualty and Medical Assessment Unit"

About: Tameside General Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as the patient),

I am a severe Asthmatic and due to a recent Virus that had lingered for several weeks, I had to attend Tameside Hospital because my breathing had deteriorated and I knew it was becoming more and more difficult as the Inhaler was not easing my symptoms. I needed Nebulizer Treatment.

I went by Taxi to A & E in the early afternoon and was seen by the Triage quite quickly and then given Nebulizer Treatments X2. The Doctor at Casualty felt that my chest was quite congested. He arranged for me to be admitted to the Medical Assessment Unit at the Tameside Hartshead building north entrance.

I was brought to a waiting room with other patients and visitors who had all been there several hours.

Patients who were waiting to be allocated a Bed. Patients with all sorts of ailments, on drips. I was brought to the MAU in the evening and sat in this waiting room (sit out area) in a chair until the early hours of the next morning. I was ill, exhausted and no one came to check if any of the patients were OK. It was like a third world country, we were not offered a hot drink in all the time we were waiting.

I eventually got on the ward, well more a side room, and was given a day couch to sleep on, it was not a bed, it was very uncomfortable because it was not meant for the purpose of sleeping several hours. I could not sleep anyway because it was hard and uncomfortable.

I saw the Doctor in the morning, they proceeded to ask me questions: Did I smoke NO, I tried to give them some history but they kept stopping me, I told them that I had Asthma but also was diagnosed with Aspergillis - affected by air bourn spores. They retorted: "I know what it is you don’t need to tell me". I was quite exasperated with their attitude. They clearly found it demeaning to be told by a mere patient what they felt their problems were and how they manifested themselves.

Whilst on the MAU it was like being a 'fly on the wall' listening to the various conversations and interactions with staff and patients on the ward.

One young man attached to a drip wanted to go off the ward for some fresh air. It was extremely warm on the ward, a Staff Member proceeded to detach him from the Drip Tripod, so he could go outside. She told him "Don't be long”, no doubt she had her reasons, to me it was like she was talking to a child.

Another Member of Staff seemed more concerned that a new valve would need to be used to attach him back to the Tripod. They commented to their colleague that it was wasteful, rather than seeing it meant far more for the patient's well-being to have some fresh air. It seems a plastic valve is far more important in monetary terms.

I could go on and on and on but it just saddens me that it seemed to me some of the staff I saw, in authority and power, felt they could lord that over others. The Doctor, like any other Doctor, was there for patients, not their own ego. Due to my experience, I felt that the staff I came into contact with viewed patients as captives and just think they can just sit in one place for 24 hours a day.

From all the experiences I've had with hospitals, I just feel like often staff feel they have every right to treat you as they wish, speak to you in a condescending manner, dictate if you can have a relative with your or not, prevent you from having an adult discussion on equal terms, and fail to ensure you have even basic sustenance, like a drink.

I despair because in my opinion, no matter how many inquiries such as Mid Staffordshire Hospital, nothing changes. Things would improve if there is an open, honest appraisal from all patients - all patients should be giving feedback. It is only then that the staff will realise how it feels for patients, how vulnerable they are.

I should have stayed 2 - 3 days but it was so awful that I felt it would be safer and better for me to recover at home. I only needed a little help a nebulizer. I should surely be able to access that at a walk in service. It is not too difficult to achieve.

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Responses

Response from Peter Denton, Healthwatch Manager, Healthwatch Tameside

Thank you for posting your story.

At Healthwatch we have a role in making sure that people's experiences of health and care services are used to influence improvements and changes if they are needed. Patient Opinion is one of the ways we collect information about people's experiences. We are independent of the NHS but they have a legal duty to respond to recommendations we make.

Firstly, I would like to say that I am sorry you had a poor experience. I hope your health is better now.

In terms of being in the sitting out area and your overnight accommodation, we have already raised this as a concern with the hospital. I am sure that they will respond here and give you an explanation (they do take Patient Opinion seriously and do respond to posts). The LINk (whom we replaced at the beginning of this month) have clearly stated "Use of the MAU sitting out area should be seen as an exception rather than a rule. Patients who are ill or injured sufficiently to require an overnight stay should be transferred to a bed on a ward at the earliest possible opportunity."

The hospital has given us some assurances that people in the sitting out areas are risk assessed and that they are working with partners on a longer-term solution to this problem.

If you would like to find out more about our work or to get in touch, please visit www.healthwatchtameside.co.uk

Best wishes

Peter Denton, Healthwatch Manager

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