SADLY in the past three months I have had cause to attend A&E at East Surrey Hospital, Redhill.
Do not be fooled, you may move from A&E reception quickly but the other side of the doors is something out of the TV news war zone report.
The patients wait in a stacking system, all across the Emergency area, along all the access corridors and walk ways. Family members accompanying their sick dodge constantly out of the way of nurses, doctors and equipment.
As fast as the nurses and doctors work, more patients arrive. Those that are bleeding, those that are elderly and disorientated, those that are being sick, those that are eating fast food take-aways, young girls parked next to old men with gowns a flaring - where is the patient privacy or dignity?
As the clipped nurse dares relatives to ask, ‘Any idea of how much longer till we see someone?’, other nurses try to comfort confused elderly that have been brought in by ambulance from care homes, they ask for Ovaltine and sandwiches and cling to their belongings in plastic bags as if it is all they own.
A nurse told me that this was a normal scene and only recently the main corridors of the hospital were also used for stacking patients - ‘the hospital was closed for five hours to ambulances as we just could not take any more’.
And as another nurse said ‘the wards may close but we cannot and the patients just keep coming and we have to put them somewhere’.
This can’t be right and both times I attended East Surrey Hospital it was not a Saturday night, which apparently is worse!
This hospital is just not big enough for the number that presently look to it for help, so how can it be expected to then cope with more patients from the extensive housing developments in Crawley and Horsham?
Where is our ‘New Hospital Now’?
A nurse said that the changes to St Helier health trusts could mean patients are sent from this trust to Redhill as well.
Patients that require further tests, if a bed is available, eventually get transferred to Acute Medical. This should be a transient ward, but for many they spend days on this ward due to tests and subsequent results taking days rather than hours to reach doctors, or because there are no beds available for post op patients, those seeking a place in cardiac or for those that are sadly near the end of life. No MRSA swabs here, so patients are open to anything.
I have to say that East Surrey Hospital is clean compared to my visit last year and the nurses seem to check that the cleaners actually clean.
But as a senior nurse commented, ‘the management seem to have finally realised that this hospital is not big enough’.
The fresh paint, the clean floors, the interesting paintings on the walls cannot make up for lack of space at East Surrey Hospital!
Mayes Lane, Warnham
Michael Wilson, chief executive of the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Unfortunately, your correspondent’s observations reflect the reality at the present time. That is why in July this year we took back the management of the Urgent Treatment Centre, which was being managed by the PCT, and have just started a £14m refurbishment and redevelopment programme at East Surrey Hospital.
“This will not only see our Emergency Department increase by 30 per cent but will also see a new 40-bed modular ward being added to the hospital which will help with moving patients out of the Emergency Department when they need to be admitted. We are also building a new day surgery unit, a new children’s outpatient centre and a new endoscopy unit.
“Your correspondent also mentions our Acute Medical ward; this is where patients can be referred for up to 72 hours for tests and diagnostic procedures before a decision is taken to admit.
“All our wards follow strict infection control and prevention procedures and I am grateful that your correspondent took the time to mention how clean they found the hospital.
“We are working with the PCTs and new GP commissioning groups to ensure that patients are referred appropriately, not all patients need acute medical care. We must ensure that where they can be, patients are treated in the community and closer to their home.’’