Woman, 87, left on A&E trolley for 10 hours

Peter Gumsley. Picture: Malcolm Billingham D4476MB
Peter Gumsley. Picture: Malcolm Billingham D4476MB

An 87-year-old woman suffering from a devastating combination of health problems was forced to wait on a trolley in A&E for ten hours before a bed was found for her.

Gwen Harris, who has a number of conditions including pneumonia and pleurisy, was taken to A&E at Doncaster Royal Infirmary last Wednesday. Her family was disgusted when she was left on a trolley from 1pm to 11pm - well over double the four-hour target set by the NHS for finding patients a bed. Gwen’s brother-in-law Peter Gumsley, 70, who has been visiting Gwen in hospital every day with his wife, Gwen’s sister Irene, 72, said: “For her to lie on a trolley wasn’t helping the situation at all – it was making her more distressed and in far more pain than she needed to be.” A bed was eventually brought for Gwen, of Abingdon Road, Intake, and she was kept in the resus area in A&E. She was transferred onto a ward by Thursday morning and was moved again onto a more specialised ward that afternoon.

Peter, of Somerton Drive, Bessacarr, said: “The staff were absolutely wonderful, they couldn’t do enough to sort out her problems, but the place just couldn’t cope.

“When I was walking through the reception area it was full. One person had brought a child in with an eyelash in her eye - that’s totally unnecessary.” Gwen’s ten-hour wait comes after it was revealed that Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is failing to meet the four-hour target set by the NHS, with performance during March falling to 90.66 per cent against the national target of 95 per cent.

Peter said: “All these targets aren’t being met because there aren’t sufficient facilities available and the money is being directed into the wrong areas.

“I have nothing but praise for what the staff on the ground have tried to do in what were impossible circumstances for them. However, quite clearly they’re being put in an impossible situation when they haven’t got any beds.” A trust spokesman said: “It was felt more appropriate for the patient’s comfort and her clinical condition to keep her in the Emergency Department (ED) at DRI and admit her to a bed on the ED rather than transfer her to one of our other hospital sites. She was admitted to a ward at DRI as soon as a bed became available. We acknowledge that it would have been preferable if the patient could have been transferred to a ward sooner. However the decision to place her in a bed in the ED, rather than transferring her to another site, was in her best interests at that time.”

The spokesman added that between April 12 to 17, the ED treated 1,349 patients. In the same period last year, they treated 1,225 patients.