Dying Powys man waited 40 hours for Shrewsbury hospital bed

A Powys man had to wait 23 hours to get a bed after his family were told he was about to die.

The family of the man from the Welshpool area, who wished to remain anonymous, said that when they brought him to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital he had suffered heart failure and his kidneys were operating at about 20 percent of their normal function yet he still had to wait over 40 hours for a bed.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust said the situation has been caused by the “extreme pressure” being put on the service – exacerbated by flu and Covid-19.

This pressure was shown at every stage of the patient’s experience as he arrived at the hospital just after Christmas. According to the family there was a queue of anywhere from nine to 18 ambulances waiting to admit patients.

After this he waited several hours in the waiting area before being put in a “fit to sit” area with seven other elderly patients – with some on oxygen and antibiotic drips.

The area had no beds, only hard waiting room seats staffed by a single nurse supported by health care assistants.

The family said the staff did “the most wonderful job in the circumstances with such limited resources” – managing to source recliner chairs, pillows and blankets for the waiting patients.

This did not stop the patients in the room getting pressure sores from being seated in a fixed position for long hours, a situation made more difficult as most of the patients were unable to walk unaided.

Due to the demand, he was not visited by a doctor for 14 hours. Not long after this the family were taken to a room and told to be “prepared for the worst.”

23 hours later the man was found a bed before. He died just over a day later on New Year’s Day.

Sara Biffen, acting chief operating officer at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases, however would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family. We always strive to provide the best possible care and we are sorry if this has not been the case and we will be contacting the family to understand their experience further.”

Ms Biffen said the situation had been caused by the overwhelming demands on the NHS.

“Similar to other hospitals, we continue to face extreme pressures and increasing sickness from flu and Covid-19,” said Ms Biffen. “All health and care partners locally are working to support the patients who are ready to be discharged from the hospital as quickly as possible, to free up beds and staff for those patients who most need our support.

“Our staff are working incredibly hard, under these challenging circumstances, to prioritize patients with the most urgent clinical needs. Our teams of clinicians, including healthcare assistants, nurses and doctors, are regularly monitoring patients to offer them as much dignity and care as possible as they wait to be admitted to a ward.”

Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams said “this situation is a tragic case, and my heartfelt sympathies go to his family and friends.

“Healthcare is my absolute number one priority at present, and I am speaking with the Department for Health, the Welsh Government and Russell George MS to urgently discuss capacity issues within our local NHS, particularly current ambulance waiting and turnaround times.

“Given that Montgomeryshire is served by two Ambulance trusts, it is vital that we ensure our area does not fall in the middle of priority from either side of the border.”

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