Demand on A&E sees ambulances diverted leaving woman, 80, waiting four hours for paramedic

AMBULANCES had to be diverted from the emergency department at Queen Alexandra Hospital for more than four hours, with extra consultants also brought in to deal with demand.

Saturday, 31st December 2016, 5:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 4:10 am
Ambulances outside the A&E department at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham

An influx of patients meant people with non-life-threatening conditions were taken instead to Southampton General Hospital (SGH) between 1am and 4.30am on Thursday.

During this time, an elderly woman had to wait nearly five hours for an ambulance after falling out of bed and dislocating her hip.

The 80-year-old, who lives at St Leonards Rest Home on Hayling Island, was left waiting on the bedroom floor after staff were advised not to move her.

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Owner of the care home Frank Bartlett said they have never had to wait so long for an ambulance in the 20 years the home had been open.

‘It is ridiculous that an 80-year-old woman, quite clearly in pain, had to wait nearly five hours,’ he said.

‘We have never had to wait this long for something so serious. She was on the floor for hours and it took three calls to 999 before paramedics showed up.’

Mr Bartlett said the woman fell out of her bed at 1.45am Thursday morning. He called for an ambulance from South Central Ambulance Service (Scas) but when one had not turned up by 4am he called again. By 5am he said the woman was clearly in pain and he called 999 again. At 6.30am, the ambulance arrived and took the resident to QA Hospital, in Cosham.

Mr Bartlett added: ‘I knew straight away she had seriously hurt herself.

‘The Scas operator said they were busy, but to call back if her situation got worse. It took two more calls and then we still had to wait more than an hour.

‘When the paramedics arrived, they said they had just started their shift.’

The resident is currently being treated at QA after having a hip operation yesterday to fix the dislocation.

A spokeswoman from Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT), which runs the hospital, said it was agreed for ambulances to be diverted after high pressure in A&E saw 50 per cent more patients in the department that could be accommodated.

She added: ‘SGH did not face the same levels of pressure and readily agreed to support an ambulance divert.

‘Three additional consultants were called upon to help manage the increased demand as quickly as possible – and to ensure that all patients remained safe. They remained on site overnight.

‘At 4.30am, 35 patients had been discharged or admitted into the main hospital at which point the divert was cancelled.

‘We are extremely grateful for the assistance provided by SGH and Scas during this very challenging period.’

A spokeswoman from Scas apologised for the delay to the resident.

She said: ‘We were experiencing a high demand on our services in the area and across Hampshire which meant that our available resources were already on other/higher priority emergency calls.

‘In addition we were also seeing handover delays at local hospitals leading to us being diverted to other receiving hospitals.

‘Regrettably the knock-on effect of the demand and the turnaround issues meant an unfortunate delay for our patients and a longer call cycle time due to journey times to other neighbouring hospitals which took our crews out of the area.’

She added: ‘At times when demand is high and our ambulances are delayed in handovers, we have to prioritise our more limited resources to patients in life-threatening emergencies and therefore those patients whose illnesses or injuries are not life-threatening may have to wait longer for an ambulance than either they or we would like.’

The PHT spokeswoman said people should use alternative means of treatment for minor injuries or illnesses this bank holiday weekend.