Disappointing care pathway at William Harvey Hospital A&E

My wife was diagnosed with TTP (Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura) sometime ago. Which is a very rare blood disorder, since then she has to be careful of contracting an infection as this could flare up the TTP. We are both very cautious of this fact. So this affects our judgment of care pathways.

My wife sometimes suffers with abscesses, and after three to four days an abscess in her groin was starting to cause considerable discomfort.

A couple of days ago, at 4.30 pm, I took my wife to Buckland Hospital and after a very short wait she was seen by one of the nurses. The nurse tested my wife’s blood pressure, heart etc then took a look at the abscess. After sometime the nurse consulted with a gynaecologist at WWH (William Harvey Hospital) in Ashford Kent. He requested my wife to go over to Ashford to see him. We were given a letter and told to hand this into the A&E reception. We then travelled the 30 min journey to WWH.

At 5.30pm, we arrived at WWH A&E , and were met with a waiting room full past capacity. With people waiting in the corridors. We handed the letter into reception.

At 8.45pm, my wife was seen by the triage nurse. She tested my wife’s blood pressure, heart etc. Then informed my wife that she would let the gynaecologist know that she was there. We both heard the telephone conversation between the nurse and gynaecologist. He informed the nurse that he was now going home. The nurse then informed us that the gynaecologist taking over will see my wife. We were then told to go back to the waiting room until we were called.

At 10pm, I started asking the receptionist when my wife would be seen. Soon after she was seen by the gynaecologist. At this point I became very concerned as the gynaecologist looked like she had not slept for a week. During my wife’s consultation we informed the consultant of my wife’s TTP and reminded her that my wife takes daily aspirin. After a short while the gynaecologist prescribed my wife some antibiotics and told her to take ibuprofen for the pain. I informed the gynaecologist that my wife takes the daily aspirin and that taking ibuprofen isn’t a good idea. She agreed, and then moments later again suggested ibuprofen for the pain.

We left WHH at around 11pm.

During this experience we saw staff that looked like walking zombies, patients that had been into A&E, discharged, and then returning. Dirty clinical areas (Blood stains on the hospital beds). Frustrated staff, and patients.

This care pathway of around 6.5 hours could have been a better experience to say the least. Not only was this exercise a waste of public money, and time. It was also frustrating for the staff and the patients. At this point I don’t blame the staff at A&E as they all looked rushed off their feet. The staff seem to do all they can to make it work, and that’s the problem. Based on our experience, this hospital gets by on the willingness of front line staff. The managers and commissioners need to look at this situation before our A&Es in East Kent hit crisis.


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  1. Response posted on behalf of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust:

    I am sorry to hear of the experiences you and your wife had whilst using our services, you describe what sounds like a difficult situation which was not helped by the experience you both had. We take great pride in being able to offer a compassionate and efficient service at every opportunity and I am sorry that on this occasion we were unable to meet your expectations and our own high standards.

    The accident and emergency departments are busy parts of the hospital and we always endeavour to meet the needs of those with the greatest clinical need as swiftly as possible, this does sometimes mean that other patients have slightly longer to wait, however, we are working hard to ensure that all of our patient are seen in a timely way to meet our quality standards. I am disappointed that you experienced dirty clinical areas, we always aim to meet the highest standards of cleanliness and I have asked staff to be extra vigilant to ensure that we maintain these standards.

    We are currently working with the accident and emergency staff at the William Harvey Hospital to improve both patient and staff experience, we have a committed and dedicated team of clinicians and support staff who have the interest of those who they serve at the very heart of their work, the senior nursing and medical management team is actively supporting new ways of working and encouraging innovation from our frontline clinicians. I will discuss your comments with the Matron for accident and emergency and ensure that your experience is used to improve our services.

    We are happy to provide a more detailed response to your specific circumstances and can be contacted via our Patient Experience Team either by telephone on 01227 783145 or via email at patientexperience@ekht.nhs.uk

    Steven Hams

    Deputy Chief Nurse and Head of Quality

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