The unnamed woman from Norden, Rochdale, was told she couldn’t be treated at her nearest A&E in Bury because she’s not from the area, despite being sent there by her local care centre
A former nurse suffering from horrific burns to her legs and stomach was sent away from two hospitals after falling foul of new “streaming” rules.
The unnamed 64-year-old woman from Norden, Rochdale, accidentally tipped scalding water on herself while holidaying in Northumberland.
Having been suffering with her sinuses she had decided to try and steam them, but not being used to the kitchen set up caught the bowl and knocked it down her front.
She was unable to treat the burns alone and so returned home with her husband to attend Rochdale Infirmary’s Urgent Care Centre as the town doesn’t have an A&E, reports the Manchester Evening News.
A staff member told her there would be a five-and-a-half hour wait for urgent care and so sent her to Fairfield General’s Accident and Emergency Department in Bury.
But the patient was told, due to protocol, staff couldn’t treat someone from outside the immediate area.
She was then forced to sit outside on the pavement until her husband – who couldn’t wait with her in A&E due to Covid restrictions – could come back to pick her up.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was absolutely dumbstruck,” the patient said, referring to being sent away.
She said after having her temperature checked a nurse asked which surgery she is a member of and she said Edenfield Road.
“She said ‘that’s Rochdale’, I replied ‘yes’, and she said ‘we’ve got a protocol now that we’re not treating people from Rochdale’.
“I said ‘what?!’, she said ‘I’m really sorry but we can’t treat you’.”
“I said my husband has dropped me off at the door because he wasn’t allowed in, I was obviously in a lot of pain.
“And the nurse said ‘I’m sorry but you’ll have to go back to Rochdale’. I told her I’d just come from there and there was a five-hour wait.
“She said ‘I’m sorry’, then got up and went out and started calling the next patient in.
“So I didn’t really have a lot of choice. I wasn’t in a position to pick a fight.”
At this stage it was around 5pm and rush hour traffic had peaked, with her husband battling to get to her for half an hour as she sat outside.
“I just feel like it’s outrageous that someone on their own, in pain, would be turned away from the nearest A&E to them,” she said.
“We don’t have an A&E in Rochdale, and we were under the understanding that we could go to Bury which is the next nearest.
“I just don’t know how anybody can justify treating me like that.”
On arriving back at Rochdale, she explained the situation to the same nurse who’d advised her to go to Fairfield and she “couldn’t believe it”.
The patient was then rushed through and seen by a doctor.
She said she doesn’t blame the doctors and nurses for her treatment but is “very, very concerned about the welfare of people in Rochdale”.
“I’m hoping that whatever this protocol is, it will be stopped. It’s something nobody seems to know about, even if you have to accept it, it should be public knowledge.”
Northern Care Alliance NHS Group has clarified that patients who attend A&E needing emergency care “will always receive it” – regardless of where they live or where their GP is based.
A “protocol” relating to location does, however, exist and has been introduced as ‘part of the reconfiguration of services across Greater Manchester’ to “improve patient safety and access”, referred to as “streaming” and introduced several months ago.
Dr Chris Brookes, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Medical Officer at the NHS group added: “We are not treating patients ‘based on their locality’, but treating patients in the most appropriate place based on their clinical condition and with consideration, where possible, treating them in a place closest to their own home.
“Where a patient’s GP surgery is located does not affect which A&E they can be treated at, and via patient streaming we will always treat a patient in the right service closest to their home.
“All of our urgent care staff have been fully briefed about the streaming service via their line managers and in team meetings including what to do if a patient does not want to be streamed to an alternative setting.”