A REDDITCH mother has described the chaotic and unhygienic conditions at the Alex hospital’s A&E after a distressing visit she ultimately abandoned without being seen despite waiting for more than six hours.
The woman in her 40s, who has asked to remain anonymous, attended the emergency department with back and neck pain a day after a crash following advice from 111.
She said: “There were sick and drink marks up the walls, the floors had debris, tissues and used masks on them and clearly hadn’t been cleaned in some time.
“Worse, there were senior citizens who were clearly unwell sat in the waiting room, some with open wounds who told me they had been there many hours before I arrived.
“Some had been referred from Kidderminster and Bromsgrove.
“After several hours the room filled up with children – some lying on the dirty floors – who were mostly vomiting or coughing, and/or crying due to being so unwell.
“These children were sat next to the elderly people which seemed distressing and I felt this was a risk to them too as it’s a breeding ground for germs.
“We were advised the children’s room was closed as it was being used as an isolation area for someone with Covid which is obviously the right thing to do but it pushed everyone else together in a smaller area.”
She added a receptionist kept asking companions of patients to leave which further distressed those waiting for medical attention.
Vomiting and head wounds
“I don’t blame the nurses or staff but the lack of communication to the patients about wait times was poor and it seemed that everyone was getting sent there from 111.
“The lack of cleanliness meant the toilets were unusable and this exacerbated the already distressing situation.
“There was a child literally vomiting into their own bedroom bin next to an elderly man who had a head injury as there were no alternative places for either to sit.”
She added after more than five hours some people took it upon themselves to just give up and go home.
Some parents were unsure if they were even allowed to bring children to the Alex’s A&E department and had considered driving to Worcester as no-one seemed clear.
Urgent action needed
The woman said: “Surely an appointment-based system would be safer and more efficient for everyone.
“It seemed like it was a lot of overspill, due to a lack of access to GPs and A&E clearly should not be used for this.
“I’m concerned with the growing population and more homes being built there are not enough GPs, let alone A&E capacity to support this in future.
“Something urgent needs to happen to fix this before a tragedy occurs. Our community deserves so much better.”
Paul Brennan, Deputy Chief Executive of the trust said in response: “Our staff continue to face extraordinary demand for urgent and emergency care, but are working incredibly hard alongside partner NHS services to ensure all patients get the help they need, as quickly and safely as possible.
“Unless you attend with a genuine life-threatening emergency, it is likely you will either be redirected to a more appropriate service or face a very long wait in the department.
“If patients have any concerns about their treatment, we would encourage them to contact our Patient Advice Liaison Service so we can look into this further.”
Before Christmas the Trust encouraged people with non-life threatening injuries were urged to attend Minor Injuries Units, such as the one at Bromsgrove’s Princess of Wales Community Hospital, where waiting times are statistically a lot lower.
MIUs can deal with a number of conditions, illnesses and injuries and the Bromsgrove one has even extended the length of time where X-rays are available.