Scene of ‘hellish chaos’ in casualty says 81-year-old

Ambulances queue at Craigavon Area Hospital on Monday night
Ambulances queue at Craigavon Area Hospital on Monday night

‘Chaos,’ was what an 81-year-old woman witnessed at Craigavon Hospital’s Emergency Department as she waited for treatment on Monday night.

Shocked at scenes she described as ‘hellish’ and ‘Third World’, she called on MLAs to get back to work.

The 81-year-old Portadown woman said: “I have never ever seen the like it.”

She said there were only two rows of seats in the waiting area and all were taken, however one gentleman gave her a seat. “They later came out with another two rows of chairs but it wasn’t enough for the crowds there.

“There was one lady in such pain she lay stretched out on the floor. Next she was on her hands and knees on the floor being sick. She was given a kidney dish however when she was taken to triage the dish was left on the floor. Several people asked for it to be removed and eventually a nurse came in and cleaned the area herself,” she said.

“It was chaos. As you went through the department after triage, the two long corridors were full of people either on trollies or on the floor.

Declan McAlinden. INLM0811-812con

Declan McAlinden. INLM0811-812con

“One lady had a towel around her arm and it was saturated with blood.

“Many of the patients were wearing masks.

“While I was waiting I went to the bathroom and was shocked to find that not only was the soap dispenser empty but so was the hand sanitiser.

“I would have thought that would have been essential in an Emergency Department particularly with all the serious infections doing the rounds.”

The pensioner, who worked in a local school, said she was eventually seen by a doctor at around 9.30pm and had a brain scan at 11.15pm.

She was full of praise for the medical staff saying her doctor was ‘very communicative, interested and explained everything’.

She added that she was very impressed with the professionalism, skill and patience of the nursing staff which she said ‘seemed to be running around on roller skates’.

“There were police and ambulance staff walking around the department. I overheard one ambulance man saying that it was chaos,” she said.

“He was putting his hands on his head and asking when this was ever going to end.

“If this wasn’t busy I would hate to see what is. I have never seen the like of it.

“One elderly man was sleeping in a wheelchair. Others were starving but as the shop had closed there was no where to get anything to eat.

“Another man in his 90s had no privacy at all when he was being spoken to by staff about his medical condition. The poor soul looked utterly lost.”

She said another elderly lady in pyjamas was shivering sitting in a wheelchair with just a light blanket over her.

“It’s horrendous. To me its broken. The people at the top - all they see is money not people,” she said.

The 81-year-old said our MLAs should be sent into the hospitals to work and see for themselves the difficulties at the coalface.

“It is ridiculous that they have been paid a year’s salary and done nothing.

“I have never ever seen anything like that on Monday night. It is time someone with commonsense took over and got something done.”

Ulster Unionist Cllr Julie Flaherty said: “I for one am not content to settle for this. I understand fully the pressures the staff are under and they deserve nothing but admiration and praise for the conditions and pressure they are working under day after day, night after night.

“But something has to give. When does it become time to stop this madness. Get the people back to work who can make the decisions to help the staff on the frontline.”

SDLP Cllr Declan McAlinden attended the hospital on Monday night. He said: “It is the ordinary people who are suffering and it is about time the MLAs get back to business. The uncertainty and lack of government at Stormont is exacerbating this crisis. I could challenge our MLAs to take an hour and see just how bad it is at Craigavon Hospital,” he said.