Coronavirus in Portsmouth: Gosport pensioner, 83, left waiting 3.5 hours as up to 30 ambulances queue at Queen Alexandra Hospital hit by 'very worst' winter demand
QUEUES of ambulances were seen at A&E in Portsmouth as demand on Queen Alexandra Hospital has hit a peak equivalent to the ‘very worst of the winter time’.
Paramedics and patients in 30 vehicles were waiting outside the Cosham hospital’s emergency department on Wednesday night.
The hospital’s deputy medical director said increasing Covid and flu cases, and patients with injuries, are all putting pressure on the hospital’s capacity.
By Thursday afternoon one frail patient’s son who called 999 when his elderly mother fell at home was told there were 24 ambulances queueing.
Gosport-based Jeremy Webb said call handlers said QA was ‘overrun’ when he called at 5.20pm when his 87-year-old mother Eileen Webb fell down.
He told The News she had previously fractured a hip and he could not move her - leaving him with no option but to cover her with a blanket.
She was going ‘pale’ during the three-hour and 40-minute wait for an ambulance to arrive at 9pm, he said.
He said: ‘No way we could move her without doing any further damage.’
Jeremy added: ‘I am angry, upset, disgusted. The public have been let down by Portsmouth NHS Trust.'
He called on NHS leaders to bolster the provision at Gosport War Memorial Hospital by extending opening to a 24-hour day.
‘People will die because this peninsula is not covered properly by emergency vehicles,’ he said.
Some 1,030 patients out of 3,534 emergency admissions last month waited more than four hours to be admitted.
Dr Mark Roland, deputy medical director at QA Hospital, said: ‘We're having a really difficult time here at the hospital. Currently we have increasing numbers of Covid cases in our beds and in our ITU.
‘We’ve started to see the first of our flu cases for this winter and we have a huge number of people attending hospital for other reasons not related to infections.
‘Our pressure on our services, on our emergency department, on our wards, is equivalent to what we would see at the very worst of the winter time.
‘We need our population to work with us, to help us and the other emergency services, including the ambulance service.’
It comes as Sir Chris Ham, co-chair of the NHS Assembly, criticised health secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday for ‘living in a parallel universe’ after he said no extra NHS resources were needed.
A short video posted on social media showed 30 ambulances at QA Hospital on Wednesday.
One Twitter user who saw the clip said: ‘I recognise that view, from upstairs at QAH (used to work there).
‘There always were ambulances out there in winter pressure times, but I’ve never seen that many, must be absolute bedlam in there.’
Latest NHS figures show on average 317 people attended A&E in Portsmouth each day in September.
A hospital source told The News: ‘Everyone does their best to look after patients.
‘But the number of patients who come by ambulance, or come to the emergency department, is overwhelming.
‘The last few days in the emergency department have been a constant fight.
‘Everyone who works in the emergency room does everything to maintain the highest quality of care for the patient.
‘Despite aching legs, everyone still has a smile on their face.’
The source said patients should know that they ‘will not be admitted right away’ and have to wait, in some cases, for 10 hours.
Dr Roland said patients could help by ‘managing’ their own health and wellbeing.
He said: ‘In terms of what you can do as individuals, managing your own health and wellbeing, making sure you get your Covid and your flu vaccinations are absolutely vital.
‘If you need medical advice about a condition then you can seek that advice through 111, through your pharmacy, through your primary care route, ie through your GP service and the team that work with your GP.
'Please do not come to the emergency department for something that isn't an emergency problem or that your GP or practice nurse hasn’t sent you for.’
A South Central Ambulance Service spokeswoman said Wednesday saw crews ‘unable to hand their patients into the care of the hospital as quickly as we would like’.
She added: ‘We are working hard to respond to all patients which need an ambulance response as quickly as possible while prioritising our most seriously ill and injured patients, however due to the number of patients who need our help sadly this is sometimes taking longer than we would like.’
Ambulance crews treat patients at home wherever possible and 999 teams decide if patients do need and ambulance or alternative care.