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QUEUE OF SHAME; Patients made to wait 15 hours on hospital trolleys; NHS CRISIS.

Angry patients were kept waiting on trolleys for more than 15 hours yesterday as hard-pressed hospital staff treated a flood of cases.

Trolleys were jammed together in corridors, a waiting room and a nurses' station.

Staff pleaded for patients to be diverted to other hospitals and volunteers served lunch on plastic plates with plastic cutlery. A relative of one woman waiting for treatment said last night: "This is like something from the Third World."

The crisis hit the accident and emergency department at Whipps Cross Hospital in East London, run by the Forest Health Care Trust which has one of the worst records of waiting times.

Christine McNeilly, 57, from Chingford, was admitted at 9pm on Tuesday after being found semi-conscious by neighbours.

Yesterday afternoon she was still waiting on a trolley in the major incident co-ordination room which had been taken over for patients.

Her son Jim McNeilly, 33, said: "She is in a terrible state. What on earth would happen if there was a sudden emergency involving a lot of people?"

Doreen Walker, 73, who was admitted at 3pm on Tuesday with angina and bronchitis, planned a protest to her MP. She said: "Goodness knows when I will get a bed. It is scandalous.

"I feel so sorry for the poor nurses and doctors having to work in these conditions."

Van driver Raymond Hurrel, 42, from Leyton, waited 13 hours to be seen and had still not got a bed yesterday afternoon.

He said: "I keep having blackouts. It doesn't make you very confident. The trolleys are all touching each other."

Colin Knight, 28, also from Leyton, was re-admitted with a kidney condition after doctors said he had been wrongly sent home.

He said: "Doctors are completely stressed.

"It's awful for them. I'm just lying here waiting for a bed.

"How long will it be before something awful happens because of all this?" Forest Health Care Trust insisted that Whipps Cross Hospital was no worse than any other in the area.

Press officer Peter Batt said: "During this time of year the accident and emergency departments are fairly full in any hospital.

"It is no surprise that patients are waiting this long.

"But they are not forgotten about.

" They are being cared for in exactly the same way as if they were on a ward.

"January and February are our peak times - we are all under pressure."

Mr Batt said the flu epidemic meant extra pressure.

He added: "We are faced with a double whammy. We have more patients and less staff."
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Author:Williams, Alexandra
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 9, 1997
Words:424
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