Oldham News | Main news | Asthma sufferer has to wait ‘horrific’ 10 hours for emergency care after falling ill and having breathing difficulties

Reporter: Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter


Date published: June 24, 2022


An asthma sufferer has had to endure a ‘horrific’ 10-hour wait after falling ill and experiencing breathing difficulties.

Dave Moth, 30, from Middleton, spent a night on a ‘rock hard’ floor at the Royal Oldham Hospital, with staff giving no indication of when he would be seen or where to find a drink of water or a vending machine.

His ordeal was shared by partner Becka Jackson, who had called the NHS 111 helpline after he developed a fever one evening at the couple’s home in Boarshaw.

Becka, a transportation manager, is now calling on health chiefs to make changes to ease the pressure on emergency rooms, believing a ‘massive’ update to the 111 service or more ‘face-to-face’ GP appointments would can relieve pressure that is urgent and emergency care.

“If someone were to say ‘I’m going to the emergency room in Oldham, I’d say ‘don’t bother’ — a man had spent 20 hours in a bed in a hallway,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“Yes, the NHS is free. Yes, we are very lucky.

“But you know what, if I was so bad I thought I was going to die, I’d much rather be home than lie on a bed in a hallway for 20 hours.”

The 30-year-old called 111 on Tuesday, June 7 around 9pm and after answering a series of ‘vague’ questions was told a GP would call her back within six hours.

To her relief, she got a call just 40 minutes later – but she was frustrated when the doctor started asking the same questions she’d answered earlier and felt he insisted on talking to Dave ‘really rude’.

I said, “If you listen, you can hear him sitting sick next to me,” Becka said.

The couple were advised to go to the emergency room of the Royal Oldham Hospital. But despite her annoyance at the response they’d gotten thus far, the couple’s trials and tribulations were only just beginning.

They arrived at the emergency room just before 11 p.m., reported to reception and received the same questions as the 111 service and the general practitioner.

“I said, ‘I’ve asked the same questions twice, he can’t breathe, I don’t know what else you want to know,'” Rebecca said.

She remembers how Dave, a truck mechanic, was given a card to take to a hallway where some initial medical checkups are being performed.

However, she says there was “no communication at all” for patients, who received little reassurance or information.

“People are sitting around, nobody knows where they are going because it’s not very well signposted,” she added.

“Once the checks are done, you sit in a waiting room.

“A woman, quite an older lady, had been there for six hours. She was in her pajamas and in a lot of pain.

“When we got there, there were 10 ambulances outside the emergency room – I went back to my car and there was a row of beds all the way down the hall.”

Becka admits it’s not the fault of doctors, nurses or receptionists, but points the finger at “power-mad people who look at spreadsheets and not the real world.”

But she feels that the situation she and Dave faced at A&E was unacceptable and urgently needs to be addressed.

“People left for hours without a drink of water,” she said:

“There was one machine that was defective.

“There was no staff saying ‘go down this hallway to this vending machine’.

“There was no communication whatsoever.”

Water also remained on the floor for five hours, Becka adds.

Becka Jackson and Dave Moth

She continued: “I was sitting on a chair, my husband was sleeping on the floor. The seats are rock hard so I sat down on the floor and he sat on the seat.

“It felt like no one knew what was going on.

“I know it was busy, but if they’d said it’s a 10-hour wait, we can decide if you can drive out or if you have to go home and see the doctor first thing in the morning.”

After a rough night, Becka – who described the whole experience as “horrible” – became further angry when someone arrived in the morning and was seen after only an hour.

After she complained, she was told that a doctor was looking at Dave’s notes.

Once again, she found the communication and reassurance lacking — she described how doctors would sometimes step over patients on the floor and “huff and puff” when people took the time to gather together when they were finally seen.

Another frustration was that people who left were told to take over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and Gaviscon — and in one case, to rest.

For Becka, this suggests that “either 111 needs a massive update on the questions they ask and where to send people, or doctors need to make personal appointments.”

“You can’t expect there to be people in the emergency room and nobody to talk to you.

“There’s just nothing, you just sit there in silence, the doctor steps over you while you sleep on the floor.

“It’s not the staff’s fault, they’re under a lot of pressure, but something has to change because it’s really not going in the right direction.

“I don’t know what the solution is, but there must be something.”

Dave was finally seen by a doctor at 8:30 am, almost 10 hours after arriving at the emergency room.

He was diagnosed with strep throat that had triggered an asthma attack.

He said he would also need anti-disease tablets, but was told he could get them without a prescription.

However, this was not the case and this resulted in yet another delay, with Dave’s GP having to write a prescription for collection from his local pharmacy.

David Jago, Chief Officer of the Oldham Care Organization which runs the Royal Oldham Hospital, has commented on Rebecca’s concerns about the ER’s performance.

He said: “Like many EDs across the country, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of patients accessing our services, which puts additional pressure on staff and unavoidable wait times.

“The safety of our patients is our number one priority and patients are viewed in order of clinical need.”

Mr Jago continued: “We apologize to anyone who has waited for treatment or had a bad experience during one of our busier periods and would encourage people to contact our PALs team to discuss any aspect of the care they have received. have received to discuss what they are not happy about.

“We urge everyone to help us by accessing the right services at the right time. A&E is for urgent and life-threatening emergencies.

“We recommend calling NHS 111 for treatment advice if you are not sure where to go.”


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