A concerned Bristol mum has spoken of “horrendous” delays in the emergency department of Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, claiming she saw children queuing in the corridor during her visit earlier this week and that it took eight hours for her daughter to be seen by a doctor. The hospital trust has apologised for the waiting times and said its staff are seeing “exceptional” demand.
The Easton mum, who asked to remain anonymous, said when she took her sick daughter to A&E at around 9pm on Monday (November 28), she was shocked by what she saw. She claims poorly children with visibly annoyed parents were queued up in the corridors as there were no spaces left in the designated waiting area or beds available.
The 40-year-old claims she was told the lack of beds and long waiting times have been an issue for the last two weeks and while she understands that the NHS is “overwhelmed” she believes “crisis measures” should be put in place. “It was absolutely horrendous when I walked through the hospital building.
“There were lots of newborn babies, vulnerable children in wheelchairs just piled up in the corridors. They’ve not got enough beds or staff to deal with it,” she added.
Having brought her own daughter in with an infection, she claimed it took eight hours before she was seen by a doctor. She said: “It was shocking – I’ve never seen it that busy and apparently it has been like that for the last few weeks. There’s a real crisis going on.”
In response, the hospital has apologised for its longer than normal waiting times and says this is down to the high volume of ill children seeking its services. A spokesperson for University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust said: “Like many other children’s hospitals up and down the country we are extremely busy at the moment, seeing exceptionally high numbers of babies and children with winter viral respiratory conditions.
“We apologise to our patients, parents and carers who may be experiencing longer waits than normal. Every child who comes into our A&E is triaged and assessed and those with the highest clinical need are seen first.”
The worried mum says a parent told her they had been waiting since 11am in the morning, before a consultant addressed the whole waiting area to tell parents of children with fractures they must go and return the following day as they did not have the capability during that time and could only facilitate children in need of urgent care. She said observations were being carried out in the corridors because there were no rooms for children to go in. “There was nowhere available, ” she added.
She said she did not leave the children’s hospital until 7am the next day and recommended visitors bring their own snacks as there were no vending machines nearby and they could be waiting a long time. “I think they [hospital] need to have something on social media to say we are [full] and only come if it’s a dire emergency. It’s a long time for a child to be waiting when they are poorly and crammed with a lot of other sick children,” she added.
The hospital advises that only one parent or carer should come to A&E if it is an emergency, adding: “Parents and carers who are concerned about their child should seek help first by contacting NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk or by phone on 111, contacting your local GP, or downloading the HANDi App which offers specialist paediatric advice for parents.”
The hospital concluded by thanking all of its paediatric teams across the Children’s Hospital and Emergency Department, “all of whom are dedicated to delivering high-quality care” despite the pressures.