I’d prefer Hell to Ulster Hospital’s A&E department, says angry dad after his injured son (14) waits five hours to be seen
An angry father-of-three has said he would "rather get to the gates of Hell than get to the gates of this A&E department" after his injured son had to endure a five-hour wait at the Ulster Hospital.
The criticism comes as the South Eastern Trust reiterated its call for people to only attend A&E in emergency situations as it continues to experience one of its busiest periods on record.
But Hussain Sabour (51), from Bangor, said it was "totally unacceptable" that his 14-year-old son Niall had to wait so long for a doctor to examine a knee injury sustained during a fall on Wednesday night.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the IT engineer said he feared the Bangor Grammar School pupil - who was taken to hospital by ambulance shortly after 10.30pm - had dislocated his knee when he "jumped over a fence or a tree" and fell.
"He couldn't stand up, he was in a lot of pain," explained Mr Sabour.
"When we got to the hospital Niall was put on a chair trolley and then a nurse sent us to a waiting room where we had to spend the next five hours before a doctor finally examined him. Niall wasn't crying, but he was distressed and in a lot of pain.
"He was getting very pale and I was really worried about him as time went on. At one point I went to the nursing office to ask why there was such a delay because there weren't that many people in the waiting room, but they said they couldn't confirm when Niall would be seen.
"We were the last people attended to, at around 3.30am. The doctor sent Niall for an X-ray, told him to take pain killers and then discharged him." Mr Sabour, who doesn't work due to ill health, said he had to lend his eldest son his crutches to walk out of the hospital - without having been told at any point what was wrong with the youngster's knee.
"They said they'd call if the radiographer found a problem with the X-ray, but we still haven't heard anything," he added.
A spokeswoman for the South Eastern Trust said the Ulster Hospital emergency department "has been experiencing significant pressures", with "a substantial increase in attendances this week".
"An alert was posted on South Eastern Trust social media platforms at the beginning of the week to advise the public that there were significant pressures and that there would be a delay with some patients being treated," she added.
"We regret any delay in patients being treated, but priority is always given to those with life-threatening and emergency conditions.
"Whilst the Ulster Hospital emergency department remains under pressure we would encourage those with non-emergency conditions to consider other options of care.
"Our staff have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure patients receive the highest quality of care during these significant pressures and we would like to pay tribute to them for their hard work.
"We would ask Mr Sabour to make contact with our patient liaison team, who can investigate his complaint and respond directly to him."