Reader's letter: the national NHS helpline was no help to me when I had to visit the Conquest Hospital in Hastings

From: Carole Woodland, Cooden Drive, Bexhill on Sea

I visited A&E at the Conquest Hospital on a Sunday night when a gash on my leg became infected. My husband tried to phone 111, but was told it was very busy and to contact them by email. He did this and received an email to say a nurse would contact me in the next 30 minutes which she did! She asked me loads of questions about my injury.

Then she said she would look at her list. It was about 7 and she told me if I went to the Emergency Treatment Unit inside A&E at 9.30 I would have an appointment with a doctor. Yes, I also found it difficult to believe I would have an actual appointment time.

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I arrived at A&E at 9.20. I went up to the receptionist and was told they had no record of my appointment or my details and I would have to fill in at the machine on the wall all over again. I would then have to join the back of the A & E queue and the wait would be 4 hours.

Aerial photos 2005: St Leonards. Conquest Hospital

Half an hour later a mother and a young child came in sent by 111. There was no record of them either, so they again had to punch in all their details again and she was given a similar story about the wait.

Half an hour later a young mother and a very young baby came in, sent by 111, and had a similar experience. As the mother had a babe in arms one might have expected the receptionist to offer to fill in the details for her but they did not. She was told the wait was by now 5 hours.

I am glad to say, it became clear as I sat waiting, that children and babies are clearly fast tracked at A&E. The young child was seen within 30 minutes and I assume the baby was seen very rapidly while I was in with the triage nurse, giving my details again to a very pleasant and sympathetic member of the medical staff and the doctor when I saw him was sympathetic and helpful.

Am I wrong in thinking some receptionists need retraining and 111 needs to be linked up to the hospital to avoid time being wasted by one and all?

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