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TROLLEY AWFUL; EXCLUSIVE 36 patients forced to lie in corridors.

Byline: JILLY BEATTIE

THIRTY-SIX patients were languishing on trolleys in the corridors outside A&E at the Ulster Hospital yesterday - the highest number yet.

Just a week after staff revealed they were at "breaking point", management were trying to squeeze 15 new beds into Ward 15, an assessment ward to ease the pressure.

But Brian McLaughlin, whose father Hugh had been waiting for 24 hours for treatment following a stroke, described the situation as "a potentially lethal mess".

Mr McLaughlin, 49, from Portavogie, Co Down, said: "Something has to give and I believe the situation is so bad now that someone is going to die as a result.

"The nursing and medical staff are doing everything they can under the circumstances, but I have watched them today and I can see that they're running on empty. They have been pushed to the limit and beyond. That means that people like my father end up lying on trolleys in a corridor with everyone walking past.

"We've been told he has suffered a stroke, but instead of treating the symptoms aggressively like they do all over the world, he has been left lying in a corridor.

"It's a mess and it's a potentially lethal one." Hugh McLaughlin, 77, a retired company director, lives with his son and has a history of heart problems and poor health.

He told the Daily Mirror: "I don't feel very well and I want to go home. It's horrible here. I'd be all right if I could get out of this corridor with everyone walking past looking at me."

A spokeswoman for the Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust said: "The Ulster Hospital, along with other hospitals in the greater Belfast area, are dealing with considerable pressure in their A&E departments.

"The Trust is making every effort to deal with the problems and it is regrettable patients are on trolleys for treatment for any length of time."

CAPTION(S):

SUFFERING; Hugh McLaughlin waits yesterday; CONCERN; His son Brian
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 3, 2004
Words:331
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