Published Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Maria waited over a day for treatment. (© UTV)
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.
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