A dad with a kidney infection endured a “very difficult” wait of more than 100 hours on a trolley in an A&E department.
Paul Gibben, 56, was rushed by ambulance to hospital after being diagnosed. His ordeal started on arrival as he had to wait 10 hours alone in the ambulance outside Ulster Hospital in County Down, Northern Ireland.
At 3am on Saturday, he was transferred to the corridor of a ward, due to a lack of bed space and was left on that trolley until Tuesday evening, when he was able to get a hospital bed.
Paul’s son, Andrew, said his dad is prone to infections and he may have picked one up during this long wait.
Speaking to Belfast Live, Andrew said: “The big worry is knowing when the hospitals were working well, how many times he picked up infections or had complications compared to now when he’s effectively been sitting there since Friday and the system is under pressure.
“He’s picked up bad infections in the past when he’s been in hospital so it’s a real worry.
“I don’t want to speak badly of the NHS but they just don’t seem to be coping at the minute.
“Just even simple things like needing to be cleaned and he had been in that bed since Saturday, it’s just really bad.”
Paul has health complications and has been living in nursing care.
Andrew continued: “He has a problem healing so any surgery he gets, wounds don’t knit together properly, it’s not haemophilia, but he has trouble clotting and healing.
“He has a stoma in and kidney tubes and they obviously need dressed as they can leak, and if they don’t get cleaned he can be prone to infection.”
The hospital says it is experiencing significant pressure, largely due to Flu and COVID-19 cases.
But Dawn, Paul’s wife, said the man has found his experience “very difficult” nevertheless.
“I had to talk him into staying on Monday night because he wanted to leave,” she continued.
“He was finding it very difficult to cope being on the corridor, more or less being in a public space.
“It was very cold where he was sitting as they have the air conditioning on as that’s where they’re working obviously.”
Dawn, who lives with Paul in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, added: “He’s had no sort of proper bathroom facilities to use, it’s just the open ones that anybody in the ward or a visitor would use.
“He has a lot of dressings and things and he needed to be able to do things in a clean environment . He said he couldn’t really sit in the bathroom even to get a wash.”
A spokesperson for the South Eastern Health Trust acknowledged the pressures that the Ulster Hospital was facing currently.
“The South Eastern Trust cannot comment on individual cases as patient confidentiality must be respected,” they said.
“We would wish to offer the opportunity to meet with Mr Gribben, his daughter and other family members to discuss their concerns and any improvements that could be made to improve his hospital stay.
“Like all Trusts across Northern Ireland, the Ulster Hospital continues to experience significant pressures.
“More patients have been attending the Emergency Department with symptoms of Flu and Covid-19. This puts more pressure on our team during an already challenging winter period.
“As a result, there are significant numbers of patients in the Emergency Department, meaning that some patients wait longer in ambulances with a further wait for admission to a ward.
“Regretfully, due to the pressure, some patients are admitted to undesignated beds in wards (beds in corridors in wards).
“Doctors, Nurses and the wider team seek to provide the best possible care to patients in the Emergency Department and across our wards.”