Sunday, 24 August 2014

MP: I spent 12 hours on a trolley in agony and could have died at overcrowded A&E

Ordeal: MP David Burrowes was left in a cupboard then in a corridor at North Middlesex Hospital when he arrived with a ruptured appendix at 5.30am

  • - David Burrowes, Enfield Southgate MP, suffered ruptured appendix
  • - Taken to North Middlesex Hospital in nearby north London at 5.30am 
  • - Took 12 hours to get CT scan as staff forgot to enter him on the system
  • - Wasn't diagnosed for another 7 hours, first put in cupboard then corridor
  • - Comes as report concludes resources have been put under severe stain

  • An MP who suffered a ruptured appendix has told how he could have died after being left to wait for more than 12 hours on a trolley in a ‘chaotic’ A&E department.
    David Burrowes had expected the emergency department at North Middlesex Hospital in Edmonton, North London, to be quiet when he was taken there in agony at 5.30am.
    Instead, he found patients crammed into every corner – and beleaguered staff ‘run ragged’.
    In a disturbing account, Mr Burrowes, Conservative MP for nearby Enfield Southgate, described how:
    • It took 12 hours to get a CT scan – because overworked staff forgot to enter his details on the system;
    • It took a further seven hours for him to be diagnosed – while all the time a deadly infection could have been spreading through his body;
    • He was first put in a cubicle that doubled as a store cupboard – and then a crowded corridor.
    Critics claim North Middlesex Hospital A&E has struggled to cope since the department at Chase Farm Hospital in neighbouring Enfield was closed last winter. 
    And last week an official report concluded there had been an ‘underestimate of the resources’ needed to maintain standards, while nurses’ workloads had ‘increased significantly’.
    Mr Burrowes, 45, said: ‘I now realise I could have died waiting so long to get my scan and operation.
    ‘The place was jam-packed. Every cubicle was taken and trolleys lined the corridors. In between, people well enough to sit up were on chairs. If this is what it’s like at the height of summer, how bad could it be in the depths of winter?’
    Mr Burrowes was taken to A&E by ambulance at 5.30am on June 2, after collapsing in agony. At 7am, a doctor assured him he would get a CT scan within ‘a couple of hours’.
    He said: ‘For six hours my wife, mother, and a friend were being told “Yes, yes, yes – he will be seen.” But they were being fobbed off. They found out I had not been booked in for a scan on the system.
    ‘In the meantime, I was on a trolley, in an A&E cubicle that doubled as a storeroom, curled up in pain.

    ‘I didn’t make a fuss about being a local MP, but someone found out, and the chief executive and the A&E consultant came to see me on my trolley.
  • ‘They were very concerned and apologised for me being missed from the CT booking system.’
    But after finally being taken for a scan at 5.30pm, Mr Burrowes had to wait another seven hours in an A&E corridor for a diagnosis – because all the doctors able to interpret the results were in theatre.
    He finally went into theatre at 2pm the next day – almost 33 hours after arriving by ambulance.
    The MP, a father of six, said: ‘They discovered I had a perforated, gangrenous appendix. Thankfully they got to it and the resulting infection in time, before it became life-threatening. It could have been very serious. People die of appendicitis and time is crucial.

  • Closed: Nurses have been put under strain after the A&E at nearby Chase Farm Hospital was closed in January
    ‘I waited nine to ten hours longer than I should have done for the scan. If it was not for my family and friend acting as my advocates, I fear I would have been completely lost in the system.
    ‘I fear for other patients, who may well be disorientated and vulnerable, and, without their own advocate, become helpless and voiceless.
    ‘I know the hospital was almost certainly trying to do its best. But when you have an A&E bursting at the seams, you can’t give everyone the best care. The reality I saw was that on an ordinary day in June my local A&E could not cope.’
    In 2007, David Cameron joined Mr Burrowes in opposing the closure of Chase Farm A&E and was pictured with him outside the hospital. 
    But after coming to power, Mr Cameron’s first Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, approved the closure.
    Hospital inspectors from the Care Quality Commission coincidentally arrived the day after Mr Burrowes’ A&E ordeal. 
    In their report, published last week, they calculated that 189,000 patients would use the A&E this year – 39,000 more than before the Chase Farm department was downgraded to an Urgent Care Centre in December. 
    Health bosses had forecast only 26,000 extra patients would end up at North Middlesex A&E annually.

  • Strain: Mr Burrowes described beleaguered staff 'run ragged' at North Middlesex Hospital

  • The report also found managers were ‘firefighting’ as the hospital was ‘stretched’. Yet two more A&Es in the area are to close next month. 
    The rationale is that concentrating emergency services in fewer places will be better for patients, in part because it will be easier to staff them properly around the clock.
    A spokesman for North Middlesex University Hospital said Mr Burrowes’ stay had coincided with a period of exceptional demand, but denied patients were at risk.
    He said: ‘Our A&E department is one of the busiest in London, on some days seeing as many as 600 patients. 
    'During the three days in early June when David Burrowes was a patient with us, there were exceptional challenges which resulted in delays in A&E treatment.
    ‘We have apologised to David for the time it took to confirm his complex diagnosis and to get him to the operating theatre. It took longer than usual, but he was safe throughout, although we do recognise he experienced considerable discomfort.
    ‘We strongly reject his suggestion that patients who don’t have someone to speak up for them are at risk. When a patient is alone, our doctors and nurses are particularly vigilant and also carry out.

  • Yes the massive NHS cuts cost lives. Perhaps this MP should have been aware of the chaos before. Isn't it his job to be informed? I work in an A&E. The trust executive members have just taken a 5% rise MP's just took 11%. Loads of the nurses in mine have had nothing for 5 years. The 1% increments are rarely paid either as they are dependent on completion of mandatory training that the staff don't have time to do.

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    2 of 8 repliesSee all replies

    Robbo6600, --- Absolutely, this MP should have been aware of the impact of his parties cuts on the A&Es country wide. I would suggest that to ensure that ALL parliamentarians become aware of the stupidity of closing A&Es when they are all already overburdened, that all MPs including members of the cabinet and their families are REQUIRED to ONLY obtain treatment through the NHS with no special favours. This might just concentrate their minds a little. Currently, it seems that they consider the NHS is only there to treat the little unimportant people, so a wait of 12 hours to even investigate pain by a doctor is NORMAL (read the article again they considered this an acceptable delay as long as the patient was checked by a nurse every 60 minutes or so)

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    There's a big part of your answer. I care alone for someone who has this illness. Read the commentary on the Alzheimer's Society website to see how bad care for this truly is for many people.

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    2 of 6 repliesSee all replies

    Sorry Trevor but we have watched our home towns filling up over the last 40 years and felt and seen all the effects. As much as you don't want to believe it. We know it is true. Our eyes don't deceive us.

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    @Trevor, You aren't a very bright fellow, and obviously out of touch with the real world. .... Visit an A+E department. Go to Barnet, that must be close to you. Look at the queue, look at the general state (cleanliness) of the place .... In Herts, we pretty much have one Hospital (Lister) servicing 600,000 people for A+E care. Twice in one year we've waited over 5 hours each visit, the second with an acute condition that required immediate surgery (at midnight) because it was life threatening. A 5 hour wait to see a registrar despite a doctors letter (given after a 2 1/2 hour wait at the surgery to see a GP), that said the patient needed IMMEDIATE medical care. The NHS and in particular A+E services are inadequate for the amount of people needing this kind of care. 40 years ago I could see a doctor any time I walked into a surgery within 30 minutes. Back then, an hour wait at A+E on a busy day. We are now at SATURATION point.

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    So lets see. You vastly increase populations and close A&Es in the International Health Service. So then the remaining A&Es are put under increasing strain until people start to face the risk of dying, leading to 'injury lawyers for you' making claims etc and everything starts to fall to bits. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT.?

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    Rarius, you are pointing out something that is beyond the comprehension of our dim-witted MPs, You really have to wonder at their staggering ineptitude. They claim that 'it will be easier to staff the remaining A&Es. Well true - but the remaining A&Es have a capacity of so many beds, only so many storage cupboards (cough) side wards, and they are FULL. It also appears that the actual staffing at these remaining A&Es has NOT been increased. The bad idea has been ineptly executed - it should be abandoned NOW stop closing A&E's. It does not work demand is increasing not reducing. And at the same time sack all the statisticians that convinced you otherwise.

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    Regret the closing of Chase Farm yet, Mr Burrowes? The north London hospitals that were supposed to take the strain - Barnet and North Middlesex - can't cope. Fact.. Imagine how you would have been treated if you were not an MP.

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    Hank Pym.........There are also too many MP`s and Lords and Ladies on this tiny island.Yet they have found plenty of room for them.

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    According to senior politicians the more A&E that close the better the service. You couldn't make it up.

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    Maybe if a few MPs died in overcrowded hospitals , the system would be improved ! It seems to be the only way to get it through their thick heads !

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    400 would be more useful. (He says, -slightly- tongue in cheek.)

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    This Tory MP has had a direct experience of what sort of Health Service the Tories provide after 4 years in power, staff shortages and chaos which can be dangerous for everyone's health. Proving yet again YOU CAN'T TRUST TORIES WITH THE NHS.

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    You cannot trust the Tories on anything apart from looking after their wealthy friends

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    The NHS is being destroyed from the inside so it can be sold off for peanuts to private business chums of government .

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    Totally agree. Goodness knows how many Tory chums have made money out of multi-million pound 'contracting out' deals, where public service workers end up on minimum wage.

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    As an ex-NHS surgical consultant, thankfully now outside the UK, this comment shows greater insight than the majority of the great 'British Public'. The latter have a breath-taking sense of entitlement without personal responsibility. EVERY country has the health service it deserves. Based on personal experience of 5 health systems on 4 continents.

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