The daughter of an elderly woman who was forced to endure a ten-hour wait in the Craigavon Emergency Department on Monday night described the situation as “hellish”.
And despite being marked as priority at 4.15pm, it was after midnight before she was treated.
“The lady sent me a picture from inside one of the waiting rooms at the hospital,” explained councillor Flaherty.
“She described it as hellish; there were patients on the floor, a dish of vomit sitting among other patients – it wasn’t something you’d expect to see in a supposedly developed country.”
The elderly woman took “a bit of a turn” on the Monday afternoon and her GP wanted her to come straight over to the Emergency Department.
In a message exchange, the daughter of the woman explained to councillor Flaherty that her mother was triaged and had bloods taken at 4.15pm and was being treated as ‘priority’ at this stage.
But she still had four patients in front of her and still hadn’t seen a doctor.
There were 54 people in the waiting area when the woman’s daughter “nipped home to sort the boys out” – her own kids for tea-time.
When she came back staff were forced to bring in extra seats. “There are people here, all down the corridors, in the green area, something needs to be sorted”, read the message sent to councillor Flaherty around 9pm.
“They were in the Emergency Department for nearly 10 hours before her mother was finally assessed by a doctor,” said the UUP representative.
“The staff could only apologise, but it has to be stressed how this is not at all their fault – that hospital has some of the most dedicated and hardworking staff around.
“This has gone beyond anything political, this is a crisis. I’m really fearful for Craigavon,” she added.
“I’m sick of people asking about the money; this is much more than that. They need to get the process right.
“You can throw all the money in the world at it but it’s like a bucket with a hole. There have been so many reports for healthcare reform gathering dust but where are the so-called decision makers?
“All we can do is highlight these issues. This was a Monday night, not even a weekend for goodness sake.
“I for one am not content to settle for this. I understand fully the pressures the staff are under and they deserve nothing but admiration and praise for the conditions and pressure they are working under day after day, night after night.
“But something has to give. When does it become time to stop this madness! Get the people back to work who can make the decisions to help the staff on the frontline.”
A spokesperson for the Southern Health Trust said: “Monday is always one of the busiest days of the week for Emergency Departments and last night was no exception for Craigavon Area Hospital emergency department.
“Attendances at Craigavon Area Hospital ED on Monday were just above average, and there were high numbers of sick patients requiring admission to hospital beds.
“72 ambulances arrived at Craigavon’s ED on Monday, which is not unexpected at this time of year.
“There was a ‘spike’ in activity in the ED in the early evening period and this made the ED busier for a time, which is quite normal.
“Some patients did experience lengthy waiting times because of the high demand for beds across the hospital and we apologise to them for having to wait longer.”