An 81-year-old woman who had already waited 11-and-a-half hours for an ambulance after she collapsed at her home was then kept for more than two hours on a trolley in a corridor at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital
Florence Cunningham’s ordeal began when she collapsed as she tried to get to the toilet at her home in Farnham, Hampshire, using her walking frame.
Her family dialled 999 at 9.08pm on Monday evening as she lay helpless on the floor but after an hour had passed, they called again and was told the ambulance would arrive after two hours.
This continued through the night until, with Mrs Cuningham having laid on the floor all night, an ambulance eventually arrived after 8am the next day.
And when she was finally taken to the Queen Alexandra Hospital, the pensioner had to wait on a trolley in a corridor for up to two hours before she was moved to a cubicle.
Her son, David, said that his sister, a qualified nurse, looked after his mother to the best of her abilities during the night, while his father, Ronald, 93, was frustrated and upset.
He said: “She slowly collapsed to the floor and there she stayed for 11-and-a-half hours.
“Eventually they said there were no ambulances at this time, this was about 5am and we knew it wouldn’t be until the day shift when there would be more ambulances and sure enough we were right.”
Mr Cunningham said: “I wasn’t angry at the time, I was frustrated, it’s factors outside your control.
“We were obviously concerned for my mother and for my father who was constantly getting up and down from his chair to see if an ambulance was coming.
“It was distressing for us all, my mother was upset and confused and my sister was upset.”
Mr Cunningham criticised the political parties for failing to support the NHS.
He said: “The NHS is in crisis, it’s no point Labour blaming the Conservatives or the Conservatives blaming Labour, they have both failed the people.
“This is because of poor planning and infrastructure in our medical and social care.”
Mr Cunningham said his mother had now been transferred to a ward and her husband would be able to visit her later.
A South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that we were called at 21:08 to an address in Fareham to admit an elderly patient into hospital.
“We did have a Rapid Response Vehicle at the address at 22:02 who liaised with an out-of-hours GP on scene.
“The patient was further triaged and a four hour response was deemed clinically appropriate and agreed by the GP.
“Due to the sheer volume of calls we were receiving and the associated demand for an ambulance response, it is regrettable that we were not able to attend the patient until the morning.
“We would like to apologise to the patient and their family for the delay and for the distress that this has caused.
“SCAS has been seeing an unprecedented increased demand on services throughout the Christmas and New Year and associated queuing at local hospitals.
“This is continuing which has ultimately put significant pressure on our ability to respond to patients as quickly as would like and we have been working extremely hard to get to all our patients as quickly as we can.
“During the Christmas and New Year period we have seen a particular increase in patients who required the help of our ambulance crews for serious or life-threatening emergencies such as respiratory problems, complex conditions and trauma as a result of accidents.”
A spokeswoman for Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Queen Alexandra Hospital, said that its emergency department had declared “black status”.
She said: “There is currently unprecedented demand on our emergency department (ED) as more people attend than we can manage.
“This has resulted in our hospital declaring black status along with local and national system partners, however, we have not declared a major incident.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure patients are safely managed, and are working with colleagues within the healthcare system to ensure the demand on ED is resolved as promptly as possible.
“This includes promoting the use of local walk-in treatment centres to prevent unnecessary admissions, ensure a safe and speedy assessment of those arriving for emergency treatment, and also prompt discharge of those who are medically fit to return to their own homes.
“We would like to remind the public that if your injury is not serious, you can get help from a Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) rather than going to an Emergency Department.
“This will allow the emergency department staff to concentrate on those people with serious, life-threatening conditions and will save you a potentially long wait.”