Closed’ casualty stays open late for its walk-in wounded

PUBLISHED: 16:50 24 February 2010 | UPDATED: 10:36 12 August 2010

HOSPITAL bosses have been accused of misleading patients about A&E opening times in a bid to play down the pressure on a unit.

HOSPITAL bosses have been accused of misleading patients about A&E opening times in a bid to play down the pressure on a unit.

The A&E at Queen Mary's Hospital (QMS) in Sidcup closed between 8pm and 8am last September, meaning emergency patients have to go to Bromley or Woolwich to receive attention or, for less serious cases, use the Urgent Care Centre (UCC) at Queen Mary's.

But a Chislehurst patient who went to the UCC at 9.30pm claims she was told to go to the A&E next door, where doctors and nurses were still working.

The patient's husband, John Hemming-Clark, said: "The nurse announced that we could walk next door to the A&E unit. When I reminded her that it had shut at 8pm she replied that that was only for ambulances - the man in the street can still use A&E, any evening of the week, up to 10pm.

"QMS website states that A&E is closed from 8pm as do the posters actually in the UCC and A&E.

"Why is this when the information given is partially incorrect? Could it be that Queen Mary's Trust wants no one in A&E so it can say that, as it's not being used in the evening, it's no longer financially viable, despite it being full to bursting during the day?

"The moral of the story is that, if local people need QMS's A&E between 8pm and 10pm, don't call an ambulance, call a taxi."

South London Healthcare NHS Trust has admitted to the Times that, in fact, the department is open hours after it claims to be closed.

A spokesperson for the trust said: "Patients who arrive in the A&E department at Queen Mary's up until 8pm can require treatment in the unit for up to a few hours.

"So it remains staffed to ensure everyone is treated safely.

"If someone arrives in the unit during this time who needs urgent attention or is someone who has an injury which can be dealt with quickly and we have the capacity, then we would make the right decision on an ad-hoc basis in the best interests of the patient.

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