"Great medical staff - let down by ignorance & poor..."

About: North Middlesex Hospital

Anything else?

Went with someone to A&E who had severe pain in lower back & legs, numbness and loss of bladder function. NHS Direct wanted to send an ambulance as they considered he needed immediate and urgent medical attention, but he arranged alternative transport to the North Middlesex A&E.

When he arrived he could not pass urine & was in severe pain with numbness and difficulty walking. The reception staff did not appear to listen to these symptoms, did not take any notes (apart from name, address and contact number) and could not advise on the waiting time.

He spent 4 hrs in severe pain, unable to pass more than a dribble of urine and with complete numbness in his lower legs before being seen by a nurse. The nurse said he was shocked by this & immediately passed him on to a doctor for a pain killing injections & further investigations into his other symptoms.

As soon as the nurse and doctor - i.e. the medically qualified staff - were involved his treatment was quick, thorough and efficient.

The reception staff told me they were not qualified to assess the urgency his situation and so could not ask for him to bee seen sooner. They refused my requests for a nurse to assess the severity of his condition despite being told his symptoms were considered to require "immediate emergency care" by NHS direct. He was left for 4 hours in severe pain with symptoms indicating he may need urgent treatment.

If this process is normal then it will sooner or later result in a death that could have been prevented

If this was a "one off" then it is still shocking the decision of how to prioritise A&E patients' care was left to staff who stated they were not qualified to assess how urgent patients' cases were.

When he saw the nurse it became apparent his symptoms had not been fully or accurately recorded - they were wrong in several important details & missed the fact he was in severe pain off the symptom list altogether.

Surely an initial assessment of a patient's condition should be done by a fully qualified triage nurse as soon as practical - certainly before 4 hours had gone by.

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Response from North Middlesex Hospital

We are sorry to hear that you felt your experience of the North Mid was a negative one. Improving the experience of our patients is the number one priority for the hospital and we will use your feedback to improve the service patients in that department receive.

The patient advice and liaison service would be glad to take any further comments you wish to provide about your care and can be contacted by email at pals@nmh.nhs.uk

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