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79-year-old woman with pneumonia waited almost three days for hospital bed

Praise for Daisy Hill and Craigavon Hospital staff as they struggle to cope

The Southern Health Trust has apologised after a 79-year-old woman suffering from pneumonia waited close to three days for a hospital bed.

The pensioner’s irate family laid the blame for the outrage at the doors of Stormont.

The patient was taken by ambulance on Saturday night to the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

But it was not until 1.30pm on Tuesday that she was taken to a ward.

The woman’s family released a statement to BBC NI and described the ordeal as “horrendous”.

They said the staff were not in any way to blame.

“Our anger is in no way directed at the hospital staff, but instead at Stormont,” they told BBC NI.

“This crisis is a direct result of our lack of government and we would urge all politicians to get a government running again as soon as possible.”

The Southern Health Trust accepted it was “unacceptable” that the patient and her family had endured such a long wait and offered an apology.

This is just the latest incident in a long line of issues which point to a health service locally in crisis, although this is something which the Trust has denied.

On Monday night – while the 79-year-old pensioner had spent her second night waiting on a bed at Daisy Hill – the situation over at Craigavon Area Hospital was branded “a nightmare”.

Craigavon Hospital suffered one of its “worst nights ever” with ambulances queuing outside the emergency department as patients waited more than eleven hours to be seen, according to one local councillor.

SDLP councillor Declan McAlinden travelled over to the hospital on Monday and witnessed first hand what he described as a “nightmare”.

According to him, around 120 patients were still waiting to be seen at 11pm.

“There were nine ambulances, one behind the other, and patients getting wheeled in around the emergency department and waiting area,” he said.

“There were young girls with masks on, people in wheelchairs hooked up to breathing apparatuses, patients lying in beds, it was just a nightmare. I had spoken to a couple of patients who had been sitting there from 12 in the afternoon. This was 11pm at night.

“There was another elderly couple who had been there 11 hours and they hadn’t even been called for their X-rays at that time.”

Earlier this evening, Armagh I reported how the daughter of an elderly woman was forced to endure a 10-hour wait in the Craigavon Emergency Department on Monday had described the situation as “hellish”.

UUP councillor Julie Flaherty says a constituent from the Portadown area contacted her on Monday in a bid to help the 81-year-old woman.

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.”

During the month of December, 222 routine surgical procedures were cancelled in the Southern Trust area.

Union representatives have warned that staff are at breaking point and are doing everything they can under the circumstances, but insist urgent action is required to deal with the crisis.


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