TEARFUL family members have told of a catalogue of NHS delays that ended with their nan’s tragic death amid a ‘major incident’ at hospitals.
Josephine Smalley, 88, was at home in Manners Road, Southsea, when her son Christopher, 55, called an ambulance on December 30 at 11.45pm as she was ‘struggling to breathe’.
Just 26 hours later she died on New Year’s Day after enduring a five-hour wait in an ambulance and two hours on a trolley in a corridor at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Granddaughter Jessie Hirst, 27, of Havant, said Josephine, known as Jess, was a victim of the NHS winter crisis.
An investigation has been launched by the hospital.
Josephine had a heart attack at around 5pm and was taken for scans, with family told at 9pm she’d had a stroke.
‘They came back and said there was nothing to do for her any more,’ Jessie said.
‘They didn’t know what was going on and they said they wouldn’t be able to resuscitate. They said they were really sorry, she had a stroke first – possibly in the ambulance while waiting for five hours – then she suffered a heart attack, which they could give her aspirin for.
‘She then died in the early hours of New Year’s Day.’
Figures published yesterday reveal on the day Josephine was taken to hospital, 94 other people arrived by ambulance to QA’s A&E.
Of those, 13 waited between 30-60 minutes to be handed over to the hospital, and 45 waited more than an hour.
And the Portsmouth hospital diverted patients away from A&E nine times between December 29-31.
Yesterday prime minister Theresa May apologised to patients being delayed and facing cancelled operations.
But Jessie said: ‘She needs to put her words into action and do something about it rather than just apologising.
‘She needs to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place.’
Jessie believes her nan should have been prioritised ahead of those less unwell.
She added: ‘It’s awful, we’re devastated. She should have been at the top of the list.’
Josephine’s son had called an ambulance at 11.45pm, which arrived at 12.49am and got to QA at 1.36am.
She was moved to the QA at 6.08am where she waited on a trolley between 6am-8am before being moved to a bed.
QA bosses declared a ‘major incident’ over new year and issued a plea for staff to volunteer for shifts.
Theresa Murphy, chief nurse at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said Josephine was seen within four minutes of arrival.
Mark Ainsworth, operations director at South Central Ambulance Service, gave his ‘sincere condolences’ to the family. He added: ‘Unfortunately at the time of receiving the emergency call from her address, there were over 60 patients waiting for an ambulance response in the local area and our ambulance crews were being delayed handing over patients at the Queen Alexandra Hospital.’
Hospital launches investigation
PORTSMOUTH’S senior nurse has offered her condolences to the family of Josephine Smalley – but said she was seen quickly when she arrived.
Theresa Murphy, chief nurse for Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, offered condolences to the family.
‘The Emergency Department was under significant pressure over the bank holiday weekend and regrettably this meant that some patients experienced delays,’ she said.
‘Mrs Smalley was seen by our clinical staff and assessed within four minutes of arriving at the Emergency Department. Her condition was monitored but unfortunately she had to wait for some time before being treated.
‘We’re extremely sorry for the additional distress this will have caused.
‘However I would stress that our Emergency Department work closely with our colleagues in the ambulance service to ensure that all patients are cared for in the most clinically appropriate way. Ensuring we provide the best quality of patient care is the highest priority of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and we will be carrying out a full investigation into Mrs Smalley’s death which her family will be fully involved in.’