A retired nurse and founder of a children’s hospice today spoke of her fears the ‘NHAS is broken’ after she was forced to spend SEVEN hours on a trolley in a corridor at A&E.
Margaret Vinten MBE – who spent half a century as an NHS nurse – says she was not seen by a doctor for 11 hours after being blue lighted to hospital with a suspected heart attack.
The 80-year-old says she was “shocked” by the state of the NHS when she saw first hand how the department at the Royal Preston Hospital, Lancs., was struggling to cope with a flood of patients arriving by ambulance.
The honorary president of Derian House Childrens’ Hospice, in Chorley, Lancs., said: “I felt really sorry for the staff – they were excellent. But the system clearly isn’t working.
“The NHS seems to be rocking.”
Miss Vinten, who launched Derian House 26 years ago, spent 50 years as a nurse and also owned a nursing home chain in Lancashire.
But after her emergency visit to casualty she said: “I have never seen anything like it in my life.
“This was a Wednesday night, not a weekend.
“When we arrived there were ambulances lined up at the door. It looked like there were dozens to me.
“I was wheeled in on a stretcher and joined the back of a queue of trolleys in a corridor. I couldn’t believe how long it took to finally be seen.”
Miss Vinten called 111 after developing strong chest pains.
The call handler summoned an ambulance and paramedics were at her home in Penwortham, Lancs., within minutes.
“I couldn’t fault the service, everyone was excellent,” she said.
“They whisked me off. But when we got to hospital everything slowed right down.
“The paramedics stayed with me for about three hours before they were able to leave. That meant they were off the road for all that time.
“I got to A&E at around a quarter to nine and I was still in the corridor at about half past four the next morning before they moved me into a cubicle.
“A doctor sent me for an X-ray at about eight o’clock. And I didn’t get a full assessment of my condition until five o’clock that afternoon.
“They said it wasn’t a heart attack, but it could have been a mini-stroke.
“I’m not going to criticise the staff – the call-handler, paramedics, nurses and doctors – they were all brilliant. But the system just isn’t working.
“I’d love to talk to somebody about why that is and how the service is going to cope in the future.”
Miss Vinten has been a formidable campaigner for improving health services in Lancashire for more than a quarter of a century.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals was unable to provide a comment.
Only last year Miss Vinten was celebrating the 25th anniversary of Derian House, a fund-raising project which began back in 1991 and led to its opening in 1993.
The idea was thought up by the Haydock family from Leyland, Lancs., whose son Derek died as a teenager after a long illness.
But it was Miss Vinten who turned their dream into reality, recruiting friends, benefactors, celebrities, companies and organisations to help raise the funds.
It was opened by the Duchess of Norfolk in October 1993 and, while Miss Vinten stepped down as chairman of the trustees in 2011, she still has an active role and is the lifetime president.
She was awarded the MBE for her services to Derian House in 2012.