Patient calls on management to act
Case Study 1
Father-of-five waits 36 hours for serious operation on appendix
A Tamlaght man who waited 36 hours at the South West Acute Hospital for an appendectomy has described the £276 million facility as a "ghost hospital" and called on the Western Health and Social Care Trust to act before "someone loses their life".
38-year-old James admitted himself to the Enniskillen hospital last Monday after experiencing crippling pains in his stomach but not only did he have to wait in agony to be operated on - he didn't see a doctor or a consultant for a further 24 hours after his serious operation.
Speaking out this week, the father-of-five told The Impartial Reporter that "Trust senior management have a lot to answer for".
"They are forcing their staff to work under extremely stressful and difficult conditions," he claimed.
James was admitted as an emergency and wasn't allowed to eat or drink as he was to be operated on the following day but a number of critical emergencies arose the next day and these patients were, naturally enough, given precedence.
"I fasted all day Tuesday until around midnight when I was told that I would not be going to theatre on that day either and should eat something and begin fasting again on 4am on Wednesday morning. To say I was frustrated is an understatement. I was extremely worried that my condition would deteriorate rapidly and become more acute," he said.
The reason for the delay stunned James and his family - only one operating theatre was in use.
"My family was informed that there was only one emergency operating theatre taking emergencies, although there were other theatres lying idle - which could have easily been used if there were enough staff to man them. I have heard that it takes almost £2 million per month to rent the building itself yet there are not sufficient staff employed to operate on acutely ill patients," he said.
On Wednesday morning at 10am James had his operation - a day and a half after admission.
"How can an emergency be allowed to wait for this length? It's only a matter of time before a patient admitted in an emergency situation loses their life or ends up in intensive care due to the sole fact that they were left to wait too long for their emergency operation. And why? Because the Trust will not pay the salaries of staff who could manage the operating theatres more efficiently".
James has questioned how the hospital would cope during a serious emergency.
"What would happen if a major incident took place, such as a road traffic accident, and numerous patients arrived at the doors of the hospital needing care? How would they all survive if only one theatre was in operation? How would a judgement be made then as to who would be the most critical patient and deserving of an operation?" he asks.
James spent four nights in the hospital and met with a number of staff throughout the hospital who he says were "literally exhausted".
"They had worked long hours in wards that were severely under-staffed. There are insufficient staff-nurses, doctors, surgeons to deliver a proper and safe service. The staff do not appear to be supported by senior management. They are extremely over-stretched, over-worked. Patients lives and safety at risk due to the ill thought out decisions made by senior management".
When his operation was finally carried out, James says the surgeons did a fantastic job.
"They do not receive enough credit from the managers who have no concept of the reality facing their staff on a daily basis," he said.
But back on the ward after his operation he experienced pain over a 24 hour period and did not receive a visit from a doctor or a consultant during that time.
"Senior managers need to wake up to the reality the impact their budget cuts are having on a very dedicated and hard-working team of employees. They don't deserve to be treated in such a despicable manner. If the situation continues patients will inevitably lose their lives," he said.
His family claim nurses were "very unhappy" with one staff member even saying to them: "We're on our knees".
Case Study 2
Teenager waits five hours in A&E following car accident
A 17-year-old Ballinamallard girl who waited five hours in South West Acute Hospital's accident and emergency department following a car accident in Lisbellaw at the weekend was apparently advised "to go home" by a nurse.
Speaking to The Impartial Reporter, the teenager says she was left sitting in the waiting room with pains in her back and head until the early hours of Sunday morning.
"When I got there we asked if I could see someone but there was nobody about. There was only one doctor on a Saturday night. They said they were really busy, I told them I wasn't happy. My back was really sore and I was getting a sore head. I was really frustrated," she said.
Her father claims a nurse approached him and told them to leave.
"A nurse came over to me and advised me to go home because that's the way it was going - long delays. I was very annoyed, I was talking about bringing her to a different hospital.
"We were sitting there waiting and waiting. Staff are under pressure but if they aren't getting funding, what do they do? What's the point of funding a big hospital and not having enough staff. It's a joke. Instead of paying management high wages, pay for more workers," he said.
Case Study 3
Visually-impaired woman 'left on own' in reception
A visually-impaired woman waited for over half an hour in the reception area of the new hospital before she was taken to have a bowel operation.
The woman, who doesn't want to be identified, told her local MLA, Tom Elliott about the problem.
"She went to the reception and informed staff that she was visually-impaired. She couldn't read the signs easily or work the touch screen computers. She told them she couldn't use the screen but staff appeared to be very busy. She isn't blaming front-line staff, she just said they were under a lot of pressure. It took her over 30 minutes to get to her clinic," he said.
She described the operation as "extremely uncomfortable".
"She was told she was going to be first in the queue but when it came down to it she was seventh. Staff were accommodating as they could be but the procedure was extremely uncomfortable. She wasn't talked through anything, she wasn't given any guidance and didn't get any anaesthetic. She was in great discomfort and pain and nurses had to look after her if though they were under pressure to get the next patient in. She was brought back home in a taxi and was in a lot of pain".
The lady suffered a lot of discomfort for the next day. She phoned the out of hours clinic at the hospital and was told to return but she opted to go the Altnagelvin Area Hospital instead.
Case Study 4
Claim: No test results over the weekend
AN Enniskillen man who went to the South West Acute Hospital for tests last Friday was told there would be no results available until Monday.
"Is the hospital running a reduce service at the weekend? If you take ill on a Friday or over the weekend everything seems to stop. You have to question what services the new hospital has," he said.
The patient spent a number of days in the hospital and said he witnessed staff under "amazing pressure".
"Staff told me they are under pressure, there's no doubt about it. The Western Trust have even had to get volunteers in to help with the visiting experience and support staff," he said.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 09 Aug 12