Mum, 77, left waiting outside Wrexham Maelor hospital for 12 hours in ambulance

Video report by ITV Wales reporter Ian Lang

A man has decried the 'systemic breakdown of the NHS in Wrexham' after his elderly mum was left in the back of an ambulance for 12 hours.

Gareth Owen's mother was taken to Wrexham Maelor Hospital on October 20 after she was found on the floor by a carer, following a fall.

An ambulance was called and paramedics said they wanted to take the 77-year-old into hospital to give her antibiotics through an IV drip to treat her UTI, to minimise the risk of sepsis.

Gareth said his mother was "tired, anxious and very, very worried" about going into hospital, but she eventually agreed and they left at 1pm.

However, when the ambulance got to the hospital, there was a queue in the A&E car park.

And Gareth's mother had to stay outside the hospital for 12 hours without seeing a doctor or getting the antibiotics.

Dr Steve Stanaway, medical director at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, has apologised to Gareth and said the hospital is "very sorry to hear a patient is unhappy with the care they received".

He said the emergency department was "extremely busy" on the day in question and said there are currently "unprecedented demands on health and social care services at this time."

Gareth Owen has decried the 'systemic breakdown of the NHS in Wrexham'. Credit: ITV Wales

ITV Wales has previously revealed a damning report which described Wrexham Maelor Hospital as the "perfect storm of a collapsing estate".

Dr Andrew Goddard, The Royal College of Physician's president, said investment from the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board or the Welsh Government was "desperately needed".

And the report revealed staffing is a problem at this hospital.

One consultant physician described how the hospital is struggling to recruit staff.

They said: "Our medical rotas are teetering on a knife-edge: we're two resignations away from a collapse.

"We're struggling to recruit... Recruitment and retention are going to become an increasing problem in Wrexham."

The report found that doctors at Wrexham consider their workload to be excessive, and this is having a negative effect on patient safety and flow, as well as workforce wellbeing.

A staff member said: "If we get suddenly busy on a Friday evening, they'll panic and open an area of the hospital without enough doctors. It isn't safe, but it happens again and again. It's so reactionary."

The Welsh Government said the health board has taken the report "extremely seriously" and has drawn up action plans to address the recommendations.

How Wrexham Maelor Hospital responded to Gareth's concerns

Dr Steve Stanaway, Medical Director at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, said: "We are very sorry to hear one of our patients is unhappy with the care they received and we would encourage them to contact us directly with any concerns.

"That way we can look at individual issues and pick out relevant details to see where we can improve as well as offer an adequate explanation to the patient.   

"Our Emergency Department was extremely busy yesterday as well as today, resulting in longer waiting times than usual, despite the best efforts of our nursing and medical staff. 

"Patients are always prioritised according to their clinical need and monitored throughout their time in our Emergency Department. The hospital is still operating under reduced capacity given the changes we have had to make as a result of Covid-19, and to ensure we are able to comply with social distancing. 

Credit: Google maps

"There remains unprecedented demands on health and social care services at this time.

"There are ongoing challenges to discharge many patients from hospital to suitable accommodation or care services, which impacts flow through the entire hospital system, and on our ability to bring patients into and through the Emergency Department in a timely manner.

"There are similar issues across the NHS and the Maelor hospital team are constantly focused on this issue.

"We have several processes and procedures in place to ensure the safety of patients if they need to wait in an ambulance. 

"We would also ask the public to help us; patients who do not need full emergency hospital treatment may find that they can get appropriate advice and care from other NHS services, including our minor injuries units and local pharmacies.

"Please visit the BCUHB website or contact NHS 111 for advice if you are unsure where to go."