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Wales Online
Wales Online
Sanjeeta Bains & Richard Blackledge

Woman, 72, made to wait 13 hours in ambulance outside hospital supports NHS strikes

A woman who waited 13 hours in an ambulance outside a hospital as crew waited to hand her over to doctors says she backs NHS strikes and that staff "deserve more recognition". Kathleen Philipson needed hospital care after developing a fast heartbeat - but after arriving at 2:18pm was only transferred at 3:57am the following day.

“It was a very frightening time waiting in the ambulance,” she said. “But it had nothing to do with the strikes so just shows how bad things are.

“I’ve always been so proud of our NHS. The staff who were with me were doing the best they could but deserve more recognition.”

Her son Daran, 45, said: “Previously when my mum has been to A&E, the most she’s waited for is three to four hours. I always thought it was an amazing service - we quite rightly should be envied across the world for our NHS. How terrible things have got is heartbreaking.

“The NHS deserves more investment in its staff. Things are only going to get worse if nothing changes.”

He added: “Politicians have been able to ignore the working conditions and scare stories. They can’t keep doing that.”

Daran, a transport administrator who lives with his mum in Solihull and travelled with her to Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, called 111 after his mum, who suffers from COPD and had Covid, developed her symptoms, The Mirror reports. The call operator went through some questions and arranged for an ambulance on the afternoon of December 18.

The ambulance arrived at their home within an hour and they arrived at Heartlands Hospital 20 minutes later. Kathleen was unable to lie down due to suffering from curvature of the spine, so was confined to a chair.

Daran said they counted 17 other ambulances outside waiting to handover. Kathleen was put on a drip due to dehydration and her bloods were taken while in the ambulance.

Daran added: “I saw firsthand what is happening, and that is why I support the strikes - something drastic has to happen for the Government to take notice. The crew were due to go off shift, but they couldn’t because they were waiting with us.

“I felt so guilty about that. They were lovely and never showed any frustration. We were the cause of them missing the end of that shift, and they couldn’t go home.

“We could tell they were tired, but they were doing their best. They never got grouchy. But we just felt we are keeping them there because they have got to look after us. They had no breaks because they were with us.”

In hospital, Kathleen was given a nebuliser to help with her breathing. Medics did an ECG, checked blood pressure and heart trace. After receiving test results, Kathleen was discharged at 10pm on Monday and she is now on new medication.

“The staff did all they could to look after my mum, but it is not their job to nurse patients for long periods,” said Daran. “There were no nurses available because they were already looking after so many people in the hospital.

“The crew told me the hospital could not cope with the sheer volume of emergency calls on top of people struggling to see their GP.”

NHS guidelines state an ambulance crew should be able to hand over all patients within 15 minutes of arriving at A&E.

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are sorry for any delay, however, there is currently a huge and sustained demand for urgent and emergency care, alongside the continuing impact of Covid-19 and, more recently, a significant rise in flu and respiratory admissions.

“Many improvements have been made in reducing handover delays by over 50% in the past three months and we continue to work closely with health system partners, including the ambulance service, to reduce delays further and ensure clinical teams can safely see and treat all patients needing care.”

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