Woman who waited 26 hours at Prince Charles Hospital A&E describes 'barbaric' experience

Julianne Williams was advised to go to A&E when she began to suffer from abdominal pain, sickness and a high temperature. Credit: Media Wales

A woman who says she waited for 26 hours in an A&E department has described her experience as "barbaric".

Julianne Williams, who had been experiencing gynaecological issues including abdominal pain, sickness and a high temperature, said she was told to visit Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil when her symptoms failed to subside.Although she was triaged within minutes, the 54-year-old claimed the scene changed from "calm to carnage" when she entered the A&E waiting room.

She described scores of people, many on trolleys and in corridors, waiting to be seen in an overcrowded unit.

She said she spent hours in the company of distressed patients with injuries, including one cyclist with a visible broken bone, and a woman appearing to miscarry on the floor.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board said its emergency units have been under pressure recently. Credit: Media Wales

Julianne alleged she was also told that the emergency room only had five nurses on duty, 10 short of what was required, and watched one of them "crying her eyes out" at the end of their night shift.After entering the emergency department at around midday on Tuesday, April 12, and being told she'd need to be admitted onto a ward for further examination, by around 2pm the following day Julianne gave up and left the hospital of her own accord

During that 26-hour period she said she attempted to sleep on three "hard" chairs which she had pushed together, and became dehydrated due to a lack of water.

"I'm a Royal Air Force veteran. I spent over 25 years in the military. I've been to warzones, I've been to Baghdad, Iraq - but the treatment I received in that hospital was nothing short of barbaric," she said.

"I'd never been to A&E in my life. I'd never had the need to. In my head it was a bit like Holby City; all the doctors and nurses had nice scrubs on, everybody was identifiable and it was clean and tidy. But it was the complete opposite. You don't know who you're talking to, it's dirty and staff are running around like headless chickens."

After making a complaint to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service, Julianne said she was contacted by one of the lead nurses who apologised. A follow-up appointment was then booked for her to see a gynaecological consultant in Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda in Llwynypia, Rhondda, on May 13."They said if I had any issues then not to hesitate to go back to A&E, which I just laughed at. They recommended I try Brecon next time as they turn around people more quickly. That's miles away," she added. "I still don't know why I was in pain. Nothing has changed but the sickness and high temperature has gone now."According to latest Welsh Government figures, the number of people coming through the doors of Wales' A&E departments rose dramatically between February and March - up from 73,520 to 88,599.

'Our dedicated staff are working so hard'

In response to Julianne's claims, a spokesperson for Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board said: "We would like to say sorry again to Ms Williams for her experience at our emergency department. Ms Williams has complained to us and we have been, and are, in touch with her to understand more about her concerns."The complaint is ongoing, and so at this stage it would not be fair of us to say much more until it is resolved. We have offered Ms Williams an appointment with one of our specialists so that we can offer care or treatment for the symptoms she has been suffering from."As with other health boards across Wales, all three of our emergency departments have been under pressure recently. Our dedicated staff are working so hard, prioritising the most seriously injured and ill patients."If your situation is not life threatening or an emergency, please try one of our other services instead. It will mean you avoid an extended wait at the emergency department. If you are unsure what to do, please use the online NHS 111 Wales symptom checker for advice at https://111.wales.nhs.uk/"We would encourage you to head to our website for more on our other services which will be able to help you, like the minor injury unit, GPs and our community pharmacies: https://ctmuhb.nhs.wales/.../nhs-111-wales/help-us-help-you/"However, please remember if you have:

• Severe breathing difficulties;• Severe pain or bleeding;• Chest pain or a suspected stroke;• Serious trauma injuries;

"Then please do ring 999 or visit one of our emergency departments straight away. In these circumstances do not hesitate."