HOSPITAL bosses have apologised after patients at a North East emergency ward faced a wait of up to 10 hours.
One woman, who did not want to be named, was waiting for eight hours at Sunderland Royal Hospital with her sister who had severe stomach pains.
The pair went to the hospital after the stomach pains worsened while they were waiting to be seen at Grindon Walk-in Centre, where they had been for two hours.
She said: “My sister was instructed to go to A&E if the symptoms worsened as they couldn’t complete the necessary tests there.
“When it got worse, she went to hospital. That was at 8.30pm, at that point they told her they were exceptionally busy and the wait would be six hours.
“About three hours in, which was near midnight, a nurse made an announcement that they were ‘very busy out the back’ and as a result waiting time would now be 10 hours from arrival.
“He advised people to go home if they could and contact their GP in the morning if possible, or come back to the A&E the next day.
“Several very ill-ooking people left at this point. People looked really teary eyed and genuinely didn’t know what to do. Some had been there since 6pm.”
She added: “Reception staff started to advise people what number they were in the queue, but as ambulances arrived this became less accurate and very frustrating. The staff looked very tired and stressed too.
“My sister was seen eventually, and when I left at 3.30am she was about to be admitted to a surgical ward.”
Bosses at the Royal last year revealed plans to build a new multi-million-pound emergency ward so that staff can cope with the huge numbers of patients who come for treatment.
The five-storey development, which will boost staff numbers by more than 30, could be open by 2016 and will be one of the most advanced units in the region.
A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said of last Monday’s issue: “We can confirm that eight patients waited in our Emergency Department for over seven hours last week, but can reassure members of the public that nursing assessment was ongoing, pain relief was provided at the point of triage and should anyone have required immediate treatment it would have been provided.
“Senior consultants were in the department until 2am (shift end time is 10pm) and the duty manager was aware of the situation.
“We apologise unreservedly to those patients involved – due to the numbers arriving each hour over a sustained period of time it was extremely difficult to maintain good patient flow.
On that day there were a total of 307 attendances in the ED, 122 of whom arrived between 5pm and 2am.”