Mother rushed child to Whittington Hospital A&E over dog mess on shoe

A mother rushed her daughter to A&E demanding that dog mess was removed from the child’s shoe, it emerged this week.

The frantic parent insisted doctors at the Whittington Hospital in Magdala Avenue, Highgate, remove the mess “safely” after becoming distressed about her child’s welfare.

The episode has been given as an example of the latest in a rise of “irresponsible” A&E visits according to health chiefs – as the hospital struggles to cope with an 11.5 per cent surge in emergency admissions fuelled by the controversial 111 helpline.

The A&E is seeing about 300 people a day – up from 250 last year – with patients also making unnecessary visits to seeking treatment for common colds and headaches.

News of the dog mess debacle came after last week’s hospital board meeting, where bosses talked about how to tackle surges in numbers.

Whittington 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.”

Cllr David Winskill, a member of Haringey Council’s adult and health scrutiny panel, said of the dog mess case: “This kind of incident at the A&E puts grossly unnecessary pressure on an over-stretched service and parents should really think long and hard before using this service for such a trivial incident.”

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The 111 helpline was launched in Haringey and Camden in March and replaced NHS Direct as the number for non-emergency medical advice. But some fear the use of non-medical professionals to answer calls is leading to people being wrongly referred to A&E.

National targets for dealing with patients who visit A&E within four hours are now not being met by the hospital, despite it hitting the 95 per cent requirement last year.

Since April 1 – three weeks after 111 was rolled out – the Whittington 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 – 19 out of 22.

A spokesman said six extra staff have been drafted into 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.”

Cllr Winskill added: “I’m proposing to take this to overview and scrutiny so we can try to pin down exactly what the extent of the problem is and establish what’s driving the increase in numbers and make recommendations to all the main players about how to improve this service.”