A WOMAN who was turned away from Townlands Hospital on Henley’s busiest day of the year
A WOMAN who was turned away from Townlands Hospital on Henley’s busiest day of the year says it doesn’t live up to its name.
In July, the Henley Standard reported that the woman had visited the new £10million hospital with a bad cough and breathing difficulties on the Saturday of Henley Royal Regatta, when thousands of visitors were in the town.
But she was forced to go to the accident and emergency department at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading instead after being told no doctors were on duty at Townlands that afternoon.
The Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which provides services at the hospital, has now apologised to the woman and admitted that staff “acted inappropriately” but says it has no plans to increase the number of doctors on duty.
The woman is unhappy at the response and says she believes the hospital should have an experienced doctor on duty whenever it is open to patients.
She said: “In my opinion Townlands is useless when it cannot help a person in need on a Saturday afternoon, the busiest day of the week in Henley, let alone the final day of the regatta.
“Someone needs to turn Townlands back into a proper local hospital to provide what local patients need. Townlands is not a hospital because it did not have a doctor during the afternoon of the busiest day in Henley.” At the time of the accident, the woman’s father, who lives in Binfield Heath, said staff “calmly told us there were no doctors that afternoon”.
He said: “No one could see her, despite her coughing painfully and looking seriously ill.
“The Townlands receptionist suggested we could drive to Abingdon where she thought there might be a doctor but was not sure.
“The regatta was in full swing and there were thousands of visitors in Henley that day. Was there any medical cover for them or anyone else in Henley?
“What happens when a dying patient arrives at Townlands on a Saturday afternoon? Is a hospital a hospital when it does not have a doctor?”
The woman claimed that reception staff at the hospital were rude and couldn’t tell her where the next nearest hospital was. She said: “They made it clear we should have come earlier and that there was no doctor and no one else could see us. They did not know where I could see a doctor, they just told me to ring 111, which is what we had already done.
“When my father asked the reception staff about the nearest alternative hospital they were so vague, saying maybe Abingdon or somewhere. They really couldn’t care less, it was not their problem.”
The woman’s father complained to the trust and received a reply and apology from Pete McGrane, a clinical director for the trust.
Mr McGrane wrote: “I was very sorry to hear of your concerns relating to your recent visit with your daughter to Townlands Hospital as it does not reflect the standards that we expect from our teams or those that they ordinarily deliver.
“On the occasion you have raised concerns about, we did not follow our own procedures and as result you left the hospital without appropriate care/advice. This matter has been addressed with the staff concerned who have also asked that I pass on their apologies for the inconvenience and distress caused.
“I am very proud of the high quality service we provide but in this specific case I have to acknowledge that we did not meet our own service standards and as result we let you down. I can only apologise.”
A spokesman for Oxford Health said: “We are aware that family members have suggested that there should be a doctor on site.
“The urgent care service involving the minor injuries unit and the GP out-of-hours service continually reviews staffing levels in response to the demand for these services from the local population and adjusts its staffing accordingly.
“This takes into account specific anticipated need for our services through local events such as the regatta.
“We have been delivering the same model of urgent care and staffing within Townlands since 2004 to good effect and have not seen significant increased demand for services during events such as the regatta that would warrant an increase in the GP out-of-hours service.”
The new hospital opened in March and offers services including a minor injuries unit, podiatry, outpatient services and physiotherapy and an out-of-hours GP service.
However, the hospital’s rapid access care unit, which will replace the 14 beds at the old hospital, is unlikely to open until next year as building work on the first floor has not yet been completed.