Ex-nurse left lying on bed in Northern Ireland hospital corridor for three days
A patient has described how she was left in a hospital bed in a corridor with no privacy for nearly three days.
Julia Hull was admitted by ambulance to the Ulster Hospital last Thursday with severe headaches.
The 50-year-old, who lives in Conlig near Newtownards, previously suffered two strokes which forced her to retire from her job of 17 years as a nursing auxiliary in Craigavon Area Hospital.
She told the Belfast Telegraph that her experience was "appalling".
She explained: "On Thursday I was brought up to Ward 20 where I was put in a bed in front of the fire exit at the end of a corridor. It was all male patients at that end.
"There were patients getting discharged and I was still sitting in front of the fire exit. I asked one of the nurses what was going on and I was told it was a heart ward, and as I wasn't a heart patient I wasn't a priority.
"In A&E they thought it might be a bleed in the brain, which would need a lumber puncture and by no means would I be going home again, as it was very dangerous and needed to be investigated.
"Obviously it was out of the nurses' control, I understand that, a lot of it is down to bed managers."
Ms Hull asked to speak to a bed manager to get an explanation as to why she didn't have a bed in a ward after two-and-a-half days, but the request was rejected.
A friend who came to visit was so shocked that she took a photograph and put it on Facebook.
Ms Hull added: "I don't know if it was seen in the hospital, but within the hour I was moved to a medical ward (on Saturday night) where I should have been in the first place, but I don't know if that was just a coincidence.
"The other thing that got me was at this fire exit there was no emergency oxygen or anything; should I have taken a turn for the worse there was nothing there." Ms Hull said the busy corridor where members of the public would pass by offered her no privacy.
She added: "It was terrible, I had actually been suffering for a week at home with flu and had an awful bad cough. I was sitting in an open corridor for everybody to look at me.
"At least if I was in a bay you could have closed a curtain and had that privacy. It's totally appalling, there's absolutely no privacy. I know there was another lady in an opposite corridor as well who had to put up with the same thing I did."
Ms Hull said she was shocked by the deterioration in the health service since her days as an auxiliary nurse.
"I just can't believe how much things have gone downhill," she added.
"I know they always had issues with beds and getting patients on to wards but never, ever did they put a patient on a bed in a corridor for three days - it just didn't happen.
"They were kept down in A&E until there was a bed for them.
"Don't get me wrong, Craigavon had its faults, very much so, but I can't believe the way I've been treated.
"I was sent to a heart ward when I'm a medical patient, it was as if I was totally in the way.
"I wasn't a heart patient and shouldn't have been there."
In a statement the South Eastern Trust apologised for Ms Hull's experience.
It said: "The South Eastern Trust wishes to provide the best care and the best experience for all patients.
"Unfortunately, when demand for hospital beds exceeds capacity the trust has to place some patients in escalation beds, effectively an additional bed in the ward corridor.
"All efforts are made to ensure that privacy and dignity are maintained.
"The trust is continuing to work on building hospital capacity so that the use of escalation beds can be minimised.
"The trust greatly regrets that any patient should have a poor experience of its hospital care and would like to apologise to this patient."