An NHS patient has revealed how he had to wait for eight hours to be seen by doctors and chose sleep in his car outside hospital amid the crippling winter bed shortage.
Michael Woodcock, of Harrogate, was suffering from appendicitis when he went to Scarborough Hospital’s A&E department and was faced with sleeping in a chair in a crowded waiting room or the comfort of his car.
It comes as York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust this week said it was experiencing ‘the worst pressures on emergency services in our history’.
The NHS crisis has seen patients face record delays in A&E this winter, with some reporting waits of up to four days, while others are treated in corridors, meeting rooms and even outside hospitals.
An NHS patient has revealed how he had to wait for eight hours to be seen by doctors and chose sleep in his car outside Scarborough Hospital (above) amid the winter bed shortage
Doctors have described ‘Dickensian overcrowding’ in emergency departments, with some staff being forced to ask seriously ill patients to monitor their own vital signs as NHS chiefs warn the latest crisis could rumble on until Easter
The NHS’s bed-blocking crisis has exploded since the pandemic with the levels of delayed discharges around triple comparable figures before Covid
Mr Woodcock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The ward was really busy, the hospital was really busy, there were beds on the sides of the corridors and lots of frustrated people in the waiting room who had been there longer than I had.’
He added: ‘I had to stay overnight as there was a risk that the appendix would burst.
‘At that point there were no beds, so I had to either sleep in the waiting room in a chair, or I actually asked the nurse if it was alright to go and sleep in my car.
‘So I ended up getting some blankets from the nurses and sleeping in the car for a few hours and then heading back into the hospital in the morning for the operation.’
Ashley Green, chief executive of watchdog Healthwatch North Yorkshire, said: ‘No patient should have to go through what Michael has.
‘Such a personal experience reiterates the pressures that the NHS and hospitals across North Yorkshire are facing this winter, which are further exacerbated by new cases of Covid-19 and flu, alongside backlogs in treatment, set against the continuing workforce crisis in health and social care.
‘We continue to highlight the urgent need for increased staffing, funding and resources across the NHS.’
York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said in a statement: ‘Like hospitals across the country, our emergency departments are under severe strain and in the last couple of days we have experienced the worst pressures on emergency services in our history.
The NHS crisis has seen patients face record delays in A&E this winter, with some reporting waits of up to four days, while others are treated in corridors, meeting rooms and even outside hospitals. Pictured: Ambulances lining up outside Portsmouth Hospital
This winter is likely to be the worst on record for A&E waiting times as hospitals struggle to cope with rocketing demand driven by flu and Strep A
‘Increased staff absence and high numbers of patients waiting to be discharged who no longer need to be in hospital have had an impact on our emergency departments, resulting in patients waiting much longer for beds to become available.
‘We recognise this means many patients will spend a long time in the emergency department before they are admitted to a ward, and we are sorry for this. Our staff are working exceptionally hard in the most difficult of circumstances.’
Doctors have described ‘Dickensian overcrowding’ in emergency departments, with some staff being forced to ask seriously ill patients to monitor their own vital signs as NHS chiefs warn the latest crisis could rumble on until Easter.
Eyewitnesses have described ‘soul-destroying’ scenes in A&E departments across the country – with countless examples of patients waiting hours to see a doctor.
The health service has blamed ongoing pressures in part on workforce shortages, with 130,000 vacancies. On top of this, staff absences are on the rise.
Further adding to the crisis is the fact that 12,000 hospital beds were taken up by bed-blockers in the last week.
Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), said up to 500 patients are dying while they wait in overpacked emergency wards.
Meanwhile, demand for A&E has skyrocketed because of difficulties accessing GPs, with one in five patients unable to get an in-person appointment last month turning up at hospitals instead, according to polling by the Liberal Democrats.