Belfast Telegraph

'Sham' as 94-year-old forced to spend extra night in hospital waiting for a prescription

By Victoria O'Hara

The granddaughter of a 94-year-old man has spoken of the "sham" of him being forced to spend an extra night in hospital "for nothing" due to a prescription not being ready.

Joesph Totton from Lisburn was brought into the Royal Victoria Hospital's emergency unit last Tuesday by ambulance after suffering from pains in his chest and arm.

After spending one night in hospital, Mr Totton was told he could leave. However, he faced a further night on the ward as a required prescription wasn't dispensed.

The Belfast Health Trust, which has responsibility for the Royal, has since apologised. The patient's granddaughter Heather Jess, who stayed with him for almost 36 hours, said the situation "descended into a sham".

They were in the RVH from 8.30pm on Tuesday and didn't leave until after midday on Thursday – without the prescription.

"We were both left exhausted," she said.

"They say there are a shortage of beds, but they couldn't get amoxicillin brought up from the pharmacy? I think there is something seriously wrong."

She explained they contacted Mr Totton's GP on Tuesday.

"The doctor came out and said he needed to go to hospital," she said.

"But Lagan Valley closes at 8pm so we had to go to the RVH.

"We got there about 8.30pm and he was taken in on a trolley."

Mr Totten was seen between 10.30 and 11pm and sent for a chest X-ray.

"He got that, then we sat on until 1am into the Wednesday. He was then moved into a ward and examined by a different consultant at 4.30am.

"They said they would probably keep him in to see another consultant, but that he would probably be home by lunchtime," Heather added.

At 9am he was then transferred to ward 7B and had to wait five hours to see a consultant.

"At that point we were both really exhausted," she added.

"Two doctors then came in and said it was a chest infection and his angina had probably been agitated.

"He was going to prescribe four different items and send them to the pharmacy and that granda would probably get home later that afternoon.

"We waited and waited. By 5pm we still hadn't heard anything."

Mr Totten and Heather were still waiting for the prescription at 8pm.

"Then I was told there was a problem with getting the prescription signed off and granda had to stay. He was taking up a bed for a night that he really didn't need to.

"The pharmacist said they had been paging a doctor from 4.30pm until they closed at 8.30pm and no doctor would respond."

Heather left and returned the next morning to bring her grandfather home with the prescription – but it was still not ready by 11am.

"I asked to speak to the doctor and just asked why no doctor had been available to sign off the prescription," she said.

Mr Totten was finally prescribed an inhaler, amoxicillin and other medication.

"I just don't understand why we had to wait a day-and-a-half to get a prescription. It was a sham."

She was finally contacted by a nurse after 3pm to say the prescription was ready.

"I am stressed and exhausted myself and very upset for my grandfather. At 94 years of age he did not need this."

A spokeswoman for the Belfast Trust said it cannot discuss an individual's care but said it "apologises if the patient experienced a delay in receiving his medication".

"Staff on the ward did apologise to the family and we continue to work to improve our dispensary services," the spokeswoman added.

"The time taken to dispense a prescription is dependent on the time taken for the prescription to arrive in pharmacy and volume of work in pharmacy at the time it arrives.

"The trust has robust systems in place to ensure any drugs shortages are managed and do not affect patient care."

Have you had a similar experience? Contact the Belfast Telegraph news desk on 028 9026 4420.

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