Belfast Telegraph

Belfast City councillor tells of 18 hour wait in Mater Hospital A&E

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

A UUP councillor has said our A&Es are a catastrophe waiting to happen this winter after he waited 18 hours for treatment.

Belfast councillor David Browne was admitted to the Mater Hospital on Wednesday at noon suffering from severe pain caused by gallstones. More than 13 hours later, at around 1.30am, he was transferred from a trolley to a bed and just before 3am was moved to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where he sat in a wheelchair until deciding to go home just after 6.30am.

Mr Browne said he was in such pain and distress he would have happily swapped the MBE he received for services to the community at Buckingham Palace two weeks ago just to get a bed. Last night, Mr Browne praised ambulance and hospital staff for his "exemplary" treatment.

He said: "The doctors and nurses were brilliant. Whoever decided to move all the surgical to the Royal, I have a problem with.

"I was in pain. By 1.30pm they had a ascertained what was happening with me. I was told I had to be moved to the Royal.

"They told me it usually takes two to three hours. I offered to get my wife to run me over but they said an ambulance would take me. I saw the shifts change.

"I waited until 11pm and being more than 20 stone and lying on a trolley all day I was sore."

When a bed arrived in the waiting area at around 1.30am he experienced a sense of relief. "It was great; I felt far better," he said.

"I was woken at 2.45am and got myself ready. An ambulance had come to take me to the Royal.

"When I was pushed in the door there was about 15 to 20 people lying on trolleys.

"I was sitting in a wheelchair until about 6.30am. By this stage I was wrecked. I was so sore."

Mr Browne said while the pain relief he was given did work, he was still uncomfortable, so he told doctors he would like to go home.

"My big concern is that this was a Wednesday at the start of December. Imagine what will happen when the first frost or snow arrives and they are dealing with broken bones. I am worried. It will be a catastrophe."

Janice Smyth of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said issues in emergency departments have been "raised consistently" on behalf of members.

A Belfast Trust spokeswoman said: "We are very sorry that councillor Browne had to wait for treatment last week.

"Our emergency departments are very busy at the moment and our staff work tirelessly to see and treat people in as timely a manner as possible.

"In anticipation of increased winter pressures we have opened additional medical and fracture beds on the Royal Victoria site for the winter period," she added.

"A Department of Health spokesman said it is "regrettable" that any patient is kept waiting unduly.

"The Health and Social Care Board has been working with the trusts to ensure that effective escalation plans are in place to respond appropriately to any surge in hospital activity over winter."

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