Mother branded “nutcase” for rushing child to Whittington A&E for dog mess on shoe

Whittington Hospital. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Whittington Hospital. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Common colds, headaches – and even a child with dog mess on her shoe – are just some examples of “irresponsible” visits to the Whittington’s A&E department which have left it struggling to cope with a surge in admissions.

The hospital, in Magdala Avenue, Archway, is missing national targets for dealing with patients due to an 11.5 per cent rise in visits which health chiefs claim has been fuelled by the controversial 111 helpline.

It hit national targets of dealing with 95 per cent of patients within four hours last year, but since the new phone line came into place in April the hospital has seen an increase of 50 admissions per day – up from 250 in 2012.

The news emerged at last week’s hospital board meeting, after which a litany of “time-wasting” visits were revealed – including the case of a woman who took her daughter to A&E to demand that doctors ‘‘safely’’ remove dog mess from her shoe.

Martin Klute, chair of Islington Council’s health scrutiny committee, branded the mother a “nutcase”.

He added: “The thing with these kind of cases is the time-wasting it causes. I’m lost to explain why someone should behave as stupidly as that.

“That sort of behaviour is irresponsible and is causing a rise in numbers. They are taking up the time of doctors who could be seeing people with serious problems.”

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Regarding the 111 helpline launched in Islington in March, he added: “The people who are answering calls on the helpline are not medical professionals, they are administrators, and so you get people turning up to A&E for things they shouldn’t. It’s incredibly risky.”

During the board meeting the hospital’s chief executive, Dr Yi Mien Koh, said: “We are not doing too well but we are looking at making more resources available to meet pressure in the system.”

Since April 1 – three weeks after 111 was rolled out – the hospital has been seeing 92.85 per cent of people within four hours. Figures for the end of May show the hospital was in the bottom five of NHS trusts across London for the target – 19th out of 22.

A Whittington spokesman said six extra staff have been drafted in to A&E as a result, adding: “We will always assess and treat people who come to our emergency department.

“However, patients are advised to only visit the unit if they feel it is a genuine emergency.

“Non-emergency conditions can successfully be treated by other healthcare providers, such as GPs and pharmacists.

“We would advise all patients to ensure they are registered with a local GP to ensure that the right treatment can be delivered by the most appropriate health care provider.”