‘Staff are pushed to breaking point’ - Patient has to wait 20 hours in Norwich hospital A&E

A Reepham woman has written to MPs to call on changes to help NHS staff after waiting 20 hours in No

A Reepham woman has written to MPs to call on changes to help NHS staff after waiting 20 hours in Norfolk's A&E department. Photo: Steve Adams

A patient has described how staff are being pushed to breaking point after she waited 20 hours to be admitted into hospital.

Suzanne Stainton has written to the area's MPs following her experience at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) where she said overwhelmed staff are going "above and beyond" to keep a broken system going.

Mrs Stainton was told to go to A&E by her doctor on February 14 after experiencing discomfort in her chest. She arrived at 8.30pm and described the department as full of people, including many standing or sitting on the floor as all the seats were taken.

She waited two hours in reception, nine hours in a waiting room and nine hours in an emergency room where she was put on a bed before being taken up to the ward - 20 hours after first arriving.

Since the hospital's emergency department opened in 2002, attendances have doubled from 65,000 a year to more than 150,000.

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Mrs Stainton, from Reepham, said: "After about two hours in the reception area we were taken to the real waiting room to await a doctor. This room was also over full, very overcrowded and extremely stuffy, staff were trying to get chairs from other departments and arranging them in the corridors, but that was not enough. There were sick people sitting on the floor in the corridors for the duration that I was in this waiting area. We along with all the other sick people waited another nine hours. There was very little the staff could do but they did bring fresh water into the waiting area for those who needed it."

Around 400 patients attend the emergency department every day making NNUH the busiest in the region for emergency ambulance arrivals.

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Mrs Stainton, who is in her 70s, added: "At this point I would like to say that the staff were overwhelmed by the numbers of waiting sick people but they did their very best to care for us as best they could, the conditions reminded me of documentary of a third world country not the NHS in the UK.

"Such kind and dedicated staff are being pushed to breaking point by the failing system there are just not enough resources to cope with the demands on the A&E department."

She said it was not helped either by underfunding in local GP surgeries as people unable to get appointment and were heading to A&E as a last resort.

She added: "GPs are human too and they do not need the mountain of demands put on them by a failing government trying to hide their short comings at the health service's expense.

"It is being said that we here in Norfolk have one of the worse performing hospitals in the UK, but after my experience in the N&N I can say without contradiction that the staff of the N&N are going above and beyond what any body could expect of them to do to keep a broken system going.

She called on the area's MPs to get the A&E to the very top of the government's to do list.

On average, a patient arrives every four minutes at the hospital's emergency department.

Chris Cobb, NNUH chief operating officer, apologised to Mrs Stainton for the length of wait and that staff helped to make her as comfortable as possible.

He said: "This was a particularly busy time, with the trust seeing high numbers of very sick people. Our staff are working very hard to treat patients as quickly as possible.

"We constantly review our procedures to ensure patients can go home in a timely fashion or continue with necessary treatment in the hospital. "

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said the county's eight conservative MPs met with new chancellor to put forward cases on priorities for Norfolk including the pressures on the hospital's emergency department.

Miss Smith said: "We spoke about the pressures the N&N A&E is facing and for his support and looking at an upgrade.

"It has been clear for some time the A&E is just too small for the demand."

Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland, said he has written to health secretary Matt Hancock to raise the matter of waiting times.

In his response to Mrs Stainton, Mr Mayhew wrote: "Locally, the Norfolk and Norwich has been awarded £66.7million.

"This investment will provide a brand-new Diagnostic Centre, as well as three brand new MRI scanners. In addition to this, construction of a new three-story ward extension, which will create 70 new beds for patients, is well underway and due to open this month."

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