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To expect privacy in A&E.

(98 Posts)
Nanawind Wed 18-Jul-18 14:48:50

On Monday I was taken to hospital after suffering from chest pains (not heart) my DH and I were sat waiting for my blood tests to come back before seeing the doctor again. This was in the main waiting room for A&e.
There was approx 12 patients and they were being triaged, the nurse who was doing this made them stand in the doorway and expected them to give the full reason for why they were there. Some were sent away as they could and should of gone to the chemist. But at least 7 to me were quite poorly
but it's the manor of having to explain in a public place so everyone in the waiting room knew what they were there for and 2 of these patients had an embarrassing problem.
Surely she could of seen them in a private room. What ever happened to patient confidentiality.

Telly Wed 18-Jul-18 15:10:25

It should happen but does not. A recent visit to neurology clinic a young patient had to explain her mental health problems to a nurse who was bobbed down in the aisle. I thought it was outrageous and surely unprofessional. Totally callous and well out of order, the problem is you are at your most vulnerable at these times so it is hard to speak out. Really though you should not have to.

Nonnie Wed 18-Jul-18 16:02:50

It may be too difficult to say anything at the time but I think a letter afterwards would be a good idea. We get the service we put up with and if we don't complain (politely) nothing will happen. We are conditioned to say what a wonderful NHS we have and how dedicated they all are but that is not always the case. Little improvement could make a big difference and some of them would also save money.

FlexibleFriend Wed 18-Jul-18 16:38:06

Our A&E you go in a private room with the door closed for triage.

Luckygirl Wed 18-Jul-18 16:49:22

Well - DGS went to A&E with swollen red testicle the other day and this had to be explained at the counter - poor wee chap!

Bit of a sensitive thing for a wee lad of 9 to have to hear his Mum tell the receptionist in the waiting room; but to be fair, as soon as they knew what it was they got him seen very quickly.

Luckily not a torsion, but he is on antbiotics and anti-inflammatories - no improvement so far; but also no worse.

HAZBEEN Wed 18-Jul-18 16:52:56

I was taken to A&E last year by ambulance with chest pains and very low blood pressure. I was wheeled up two long corridors to the end of a very long queue. After about 2 hours a nurse came asked a lot of questions, took blood and then gave me a gown to change into in the corridor! I refused and she tried to insist saying no-one is looking at you! Well sorry but the drunk who kept trying to lie on my trolley until my partner physically removed him was!! At my age I dont flash the flesh for anyone!

sodapop Wed 18-Jul-18 17:27:13

I agree with Nonnie a letter to the relevant authorities is a good idea and to the Nursing Officer. A&E staff are under a lot of pressure I know but sometimes lose sight of good practice guidelines.

Cherrytree59 Wed 18-Jul-18 17:53:33

Yep spent many a night with my father in A&E waiting to be assigned a bed on a ward.
(That in itself a nightmare).

There would only be a curtain between each bed,
The beds all in close proximity.
Every conversation between patient, doctor and nurses could be heard.
As that of conversations at the nurse's station including discussion on the telephone.

Bluegal Wed 18-Jul-18 18:18:14

You are not being unreasonable Nanawind but I think most a and e depts can’t actually cope with the volume and have nowhere to put people? I have only been in A and E once (thankfully) and I was so ill I really couldn’t care less who was where doing what! I just wanted to be seen and if that meant shouting it from the rooftops I’d have done it! I picked my dignity up again on the way out of hospital ?. Overall I was treated really well.

fourormore Wed 18-Jul-18 18:42:17

I think you answered part of the question in your original post Nanawind when you said that some where sent away as they shouldn't have gone to A&E in the first place.
There is limited space and limited staff and if these are taken up by those who needn't be there where can the genuine patients be held?
That is another can of worms!
Obviously I would never agree that any of the experiences spoken of are pleasant and these things shouldn't happen.
I spent several hours in A&E recently with my DH. We were in a small bay of four trolley-beds separated by curtains.
Yes, we could overhear some of what was going on around us but he had splendid treatment, was not fobbed off and is still having follow-up appointments for which we will be eternally grateful.

Coolgran65 Wed 18-Jul-18 19:31:48

My sis in law and friend (called P) was in the last stages of breast cancer and was very poorly, only a few days short of passing. She was taken to local A & E from home as an emergency by ambulance and I followed to be with her husband, my brother. One or other of us at any given time was waiting out in the car and relieving each other as necessary. She was taken into a single cubicle on a trolley. This cubicle she actually shared with another lady who had a suspected stroke. Each trolley was at the extreme edge of the curtained cubicle with a space between the trolleys of about 9 inches. The other lady's daughter was with her and trying to comfort her mother. Either I or my brother was with P trying to give comfort. Two carers trying to fit into this 9" channel between the beds.

While this was going on our Health Minister walked through A & E accompanied by some officials and passing within 3 or 4 ft.

At least he was there and seeing the situation for himself, but I so wanted to grab him by the arm.... Hey Boy!! as they say in our part of the country.

Eloethan Wed 18-Jul-18 21:23:51

I think the NHS staff do the best they can with what they have available but I agree that it would certainly be preferable if patients had privacy when discussing personal medical matters.

Deedaa Thu 19-Jul-18 10:06:35

Our A&E does have a small private room where patients are triaged. Beds in the department are only separated by curtains but DH is usually moved onto a ward fairly quickly and the staff are as nice as they can be under the circumstances.

theresacoo Thu 19-Jul-18 10:28:35

Feed back to PALS. All hospital have this service. To complain or compliment. It’s a lovely friendly service

GrannyAnnie2010 Thu 19-Jul-18 10:38:08

Anyone seen Embarrassing Bodies?

barbaralynne Thu 19-Jul-18 10:38:24

Several have already commenred that this isn't the fault of the doctors, nurses or any hospital staff. It is happening all over the country and is due to lack of funding in all areas of society. My feeling is that the best person to write to is your MP. The NHS management in the hospital can't do anything other than apologise.

SunnySusie Thu 19-Jul-18 10:42:20

I volunteer at the local large NHS hospital and the volume of patients seen is huge. Our A&E has sixty curtained cubicle spaces and six private rooms, but 750,000 patients visited the department last year. They are barely managing. The private rooms are always full, sometimes with people who may be experiencing their last moments on earth, and triage gets pushed out into public spaces to try and give really sick people privacy. I admit its not good, but I can see why those choices sometimes have to be made. Every year the volume of patients seems to increase, so I dont know where we are going with it all, but I cant see things getting better unless we get a government with the courage to do something potentially unpopular to fund the system.

RetiredRGN Thu 19-Jul-18 10:55:53

Hi there I am a retired nurse and that is totally unacceptable Ring the hospital switchboard and ask to be put through to P. A.L.S (Patient advisory liason service ) If you do that they have to act and investigate . Other means like emails and letters can get lost or ignored That is what this body was set up for and they have to go and question the relevant dept for change to be made etc and will keep in contact with you

VenusDeVillendorf Thu 19-Jul-18 10:59:54

I’m glad you’re better OP, but I do think you’re being very unreasonable to complain that the staff haven’t a private suite to interview you in accident and emergency!

I think if you’re well enough to notice things like curtains in A&E you’re neither experiencing an accident nor an emergency.

The problem isn’t with the hospital, the docs nor the nurses, it’s stupid people not bothering to go to their GP in the first place.

When I’ve been in A&E the staff were totally overwhelmed with car accidents- five came in on gurnies and some were given immediate IVs in the lobby... blood everywhere.

I don’t think they cared two whits about privacy.

As I say if you’re thinking about curtains and privacy, you’re not in the right place... a GPs surgery might be better!

I have a friend who works in a hospital in Gabon.
His stories would make you righteously angry.
Really, we are so blessed to have a health service at all.

I wouldn’t write anything other than a letter of thanks.

Count your blessings I say.

MiceElf Thu 19-Jul-18 11:03:27

Not unreasonable, but my local A&E which was built for a maximum of 80 patients a day had 574 turn up one day last week. Many seriously ill, some with mental health problems, some babies and two prisoners handcuffed to their guards.
Despite this, when I was sent there by my GP recently, I had excellent care, seen in ‘private’ in an alcove, by a brilliant Spanish doctor and sent for all the appropriate tests and scans. I have no idea how the staff cope with the pressure and remain sane themselves.

MaggieMay69 Thu 19-Jul-18 11:07:15

My daughter has been a nurse for over 40 years now, and has slowly watched the decline of the NHS, not through lowering standards from herself or colleagues, but the lack of funding, the slow but sure privatisation, the the complete lack of space. And now people have to wait for up to a month for Drs Appointments, (yep a month for my grandson who turned out to have Labrynthitis and was in agony) people will now go straight to A&E just to get seen.
Its a bloody mess. But enjoy it while it lasts, for if it carries on the way its going, we soon won't have an NHS to complain about.

maureenm48 Thu 19-Jul-18 11:12:25

This certainly DOESN'T happen all over the country. I've been to 5 different hospitals here in the North-west with elderly relatives.Triage has always been in a private room even with a minor injury. Treatment and care were quick & efficient. Nothing was too much trouble!

KirbyGirl Thu 19-Jul-18 11:25:44

I have been to A & E five times in the last three years. The quietest day was Christmas day! Does this say something?

The last time I was in a curtained area next door to a woman who was being questioned about a suspected stroke. I recognised her voice and heard all about her alcohol consumption - not great I hasten to add.

Every time (except Dec 25) there were drunks, drug addicts, prisoners handcuffed to guards and once a young girl with her mother demanding a bed for her. The girl had cystitis.

I think the staff are wonderful - it seemed like total chaos but in the end every time I got seen and sorted, ie. my dislocated hip returned to its socket.

starbird Thu 19-Jul-18 11:31:25

We have a walk in centre in town and you are seen in private there by a doctor who gives you his/her full attention and treats you with respect. That is perhaps why many flock to go there instead of the busy A&E or GP who treats patients as though they are time wasting hypochondriacs, and doesn’t listen. I would be happy to pay for health services on a means tested basis as they do in some other European countries.
Meanwhile, if I have to go to A&E I will try writing down my symptoms rather than broadcast them to all and sundry!

grandmac Thu 19-Jul-18 11:46:06

Last year my poor daughter twice had to go to A&E at night with bleeding in early pregnancy. Both times she was asked by the receptionist sitting behind a glass screen why she was there. Despite trying to be discreet, several times she was told to speak up and consequently the very crowded waiting room was able to hear her every symptom. The triage nurse was at a desk beside the receptionist, again in front of the waiting room, but at least there was no screen so she didn’t have to shout her details.
I am still incensed that the receptionist asked intrusive questions when surely “I’m x weeks pregnant and I’m bleeding” would have been enough information to get her triaged.