Woman's 26-hour wait in Belfast A&E

Published Tuesday, 13 May 2014
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A cancer sufferer has told UTV about her 26-hour wait in "horrific pain" for treatment in a Belfast accident and emergency department.

Mother-of-one Maria Gibney is terminally ill with cancer and faces a daily battle with her condition.

While incurable, her condition can be treated. The 51-year-old has already had a kidney removed, however, the cancer has spread to her lungs and she is on constant medication to deal with the pain.

At the end of April, Maria feared her cancer had spread as she was in "excruciating pain" and her husband contacted the Belfast City Hospital.

He was told they needed to attend the Royal to see her oncologist.

However, when Maria arrived at the hospital, she was met with a busy emergency department and a 26-hour wait for a bed.

"It was the worst experience of my life," Maria told UTV.

"We have been through loads of experiences and we have always considered the Royal to be there for us - but I thought we were in a third world country.

"I thought the cancer had spread into my bones - the pain was that horrific."

First Maria waited in a wheel chair for more than four hours.

She was then put in a trolley where she lay, in agony, for 22 hours, before she finally got a bed, the treatment and the medication she so desperately required.

Maria added: "I'm a middle-aged woman, I would be appalled if my own mother had to attend, or even my own son who is 22.

"I wouldn't even take my dog."

"I wouldn't go back, I have no confidence that I would get the treatment."

I had to fight for the treatment I needed and you shouldn't have to do that, it should be available for you when you need it.

Maria Gibney

The emergency department at the Royal has been at the centre of a series of controversies recently.

In January the hospital's management was forced to declare a major incident in the department because of the number of patients and the strain on its resources.

Staff likened the scenes to that of a war zone while patients faced lengthy waits to see doctors.

The incident forced Health Minister Edwin Poots to instigate a review into emergency care across the region.

In a statement the Belfast Health Trust said it was "sorry the patient's experience was not up to the standard expected" and had launched an investigation into the incident.

It continued: "The Royal Victoria Hospital emergency department was busy on the night in question and it is with regret that patients had long delays.

"We recognise that it is frustrating for patients, however, staff do everything they can to ensure patients are seen quickly and ward staff work very hard to ensure beds are made available in as timely a manner as possible."

The DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots said he "regretted" the ordeal faced by Maria.

He added: "I fully understand the frustration and anger expressed by Ms Gibney.

"This appears to be a perfect example of a case which should not end up in an emergency department.

"However, it is very important to say that emergency care is one of my main priorities and I have taken a number of steps to ensure that such experiences are prevented from happening in future."

© UTV News
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14 Comments
Mike in England wrote (74 days ago):
Britain is broke, no more money for the NHS. In 10 years time the NHS will be gone. Its unsustainable. I pay for private medical Insurance. I have the peace of mind that if I need treatment I will get it straight away and not have to wait months or sit in a hospital for hours.
gerard in belfast wrote (74 days ago):
i myself had to wait 11 hours to see a doctor i dont think any were in the uk should have to wait that long to see a doctor this dup minister has close down 2 a/e departments already the rvh can not take care of the whole of belfast there r to many people for that 1 hospital even when you had the other 2 open the rvh you still had to wait about 6 hours which is still far to long to wait the way things r going the uk r becoming a third world nhs cause of these cuts they can help there mates out in the banks but they letting the nhs go to the dogs onless we the people say to our mlas we want a better nhs here there will be a lot of deaths in the next few years cause at the end of the day we all need this no matter what side of the road ur from all we heard from this minister is he is looking into it and will fix it he is taking his time over it i would say cause thats all he keeps saying
Teresa Cooke in Belfast wrote (75 days ago):
I have an ongoing condition which flares up every couple of years and I end up in a&e nearly weekly for fluid and anti sickness tablets and often have to be admitted. I have attended the a&e on at least 5 times over the last 8 weeks and each time was awful. There is always people lying on beds (me being one of them) for hours and this is during day time and night time. One afternoon I was there they had to call in extra staff to try to help. The doctors and nurses are doing their best and they do 13 hours shifts getting only half an hour for lunch and dinner, that is a disgrace. The other A&E's departments should be reopened.
Belfast in Belfast wrote (75 days ago):
Hospitals r a disgrace.... My mum had cancer for past 3 years we were told 28th jan this year it was gone a week later my mum took ill we brought her back n forth to ane and cancer centre asked onnumerous occassions gor them to do a ct scan which was refused everytime n we were told she was consipated. End of march we got a gp addmission into the city while they still didnt rush to do scan finally over 2weeks after being in the city we had scan and redults that in fact it was cancer had spread and sadly she passed away 10. Days later.... I have no trust in the health care here!
Anne Marie Mc Naughton in Cushendall wrote (75 days ago):
The emergency department in all hospitals are a disgrace. My 94yo mum with severe dimentia and an inr of 10+ was on a trolly for 21 hrs ln ambulance triage in Antrim. Just not good enough
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NICHOLA JARVIS
So last night my five-year-old told me I was fat. Well, after the initial shock, I managed to wipe the surprised look off my face and spun this to my, and her, advantage. ...
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