We visited the A&E department of the Royal Sussex County Hospital (A&E) and the Children’s Emergency department of the Royal Alexandra Hospital (CED).
We were interested in:
- the patient or parent experience.
- knowing if they they tried to seek alternative services before approaching the hospital.
- their experience of using alternative services and whether this experience would encourage them to seek alternatives in the future.
Patients / Parents:
- were not provided with enough information in person, about how long they might wait to be seen.
Healthwatch recommended this information is provided in person on arrival and while in the waiting room.
- felt access to both emergency departments was difficult.
Healthwatch noted a need for better signage and better access by car.
- felt that comfort in the waiting areas of both emergency departments could be improved.
Some patients/parents had sought help from alternative services before attending A&E/CED, though they raised some concerns with these services:
- In some cases, patients/parents felt they had not been provided with a good service in the past. This was particularly the case with the NHS 111 service and the drop-in service near Brighton station. This influenced their decision this time, to attend A&E/CED directly. Healthwatch recommended better quality alternative services, would help take the pressure of the emergency departments.
- Where parents had sought help through an alternative (for example NHS 111 service) in many cases, the alternative had referred their child to CED and parents felt the diversion had been a waste of time. This finding was reflected in our conversations with patients in the A&E. Healthwatch recommended that more clinical support should be provided to these services, to ensure they are able to help some patients avoid the use of the emergency departments.
Most of the patients/parents we spoke with were unaware of some of the alternative services available.
- The were unaware of the ‘Help my A&E’ booklet which was produced to encourage patients (and parents of) to seek alternative services to CED and A&E.
- Most were either unaware of, or had chosen not to use, pharmacies or the NHS choices website as an alternative.
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