Grange Hospital: Man forced to carry grandad in cardiac arrest to A&E as no ambulance available

A grandson recalls the moment he thought his grandfather had died while he was carrying him to A&E

A man has described the "traumatic" moment he was forced to carry his elderly grandfather through a hospital car park while he had a cardiac arrest.

Steven Parsons, from Monmouth, was told there were no ambulances to take 83-year-old Bernard Saunders to A&E and had to drive him there himself.

But when they arrived, Mr Saunders had a cardiac arrest in the A&E carpark. He survived the incident, but remains in hospital receiving medical care.

Mr Parsons said that he believes if an ambulance had been available to transport his grandfather and give him oxygen, he wouldn't have suffered the cardiac arrest.

It was on December 27 that Mr Saunders had told his grandson he had been struggling with "tight chest pains", but couldn't get a doctor to come and see him.

Mr Parsons called 111 and was on hold for two hours, only to be told a doctor would call back. He was eventually told that there were no doctors available to come out to visit Mr Saunders.

It was that night that Mr Saunders collapsed.

"My nan yelled for me, I rushed over and sort of saw him trying to talk. He was a bit muffled, he was grey in the face, and I could see there was definitely something not right," Mr Parsons told ITV Cymru Wales.

"I called 999 then in a panic, explained what had happened...

"They talked me through a few things and then they said they can’t get an ambulance out, that they're so sorry, and you’ll have to drive him yourself.

"So we wrapped him up as warm as we could because he was obviously struggling with the cold, [and] we helped him into my car."

Mr Parsons said he drove to the The Grange University Hospital's A+E department, but his grandfather was struggling to walk from the car to the hospital building.

'Noone should be in a position where they are carrying a loved one across a carpark'

"He started saying, 'I can’t go any further.' I carried him as far as I could go then, I yelled out for help a couple of times, and a nurse ran over.

"They got him a wheelchair and rushed him straight into A+E.

"Next thing I know, they take me and put me into a side room, a nurse came into the room and told me he was in cardiac arrest and was I aware of it or anything that could have caused it?"

Mr Parsons said the medical team discovered a clot on Mr Saunders' lung which was blocking a valve to his heart.

"I really felt a real piece of relief knowing he was with us still," Mr Parsons said.

"No one should be in a position where they’re carrying a loved one across a car park, when you think that they have gone and someone could have helped them."

Mr Parsons said he and his grandfather wanted to thank all the staff at the Grange Hospital for their help, with Mr Parsons crediting one nurse in particular for "saving" his grandfather's life.

A full investigation is now underway into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

'No option'

Jeff Morris, the Welsh Ambulance Service's Head of Emergency Medical Services for the central region, has offered "sincere apologies" to Mr Parsons and his grandfather.

"This is not the level of service any of us wishes to provide, but demand has been such that we have had no option other than to ask some patients to make their own way to hospital, as was the experience of this family.

"We understand completely that this is distressing and worrying for patients, families and carers, but it is sometimes a more timely option than waiting for an ambulance when we know that wait is likely to be considerable.

"We have received a concern from Mr Parsons about his grandfather's experience and we will be in touch with him to discuss matters further. Meanwhile, we wish Mr Parsons' grandfather well and hope that he makes a full recovery."

'Extreme pressures' in Welsh NHS

It comes as the NHS in Wales faces "exceptional pressure", which the Welsh Government says is due to Covid as well as rapid increases in other respiratory viruses.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which manages the Grange University Hospital, said it is experiencing "unprecedented demand" and long waits for services.

A spokesperson said: "We ask for your support in using our services appropriately to help us treat the very sickest patients as quickly as possible. If you're unsure where to go, please check your symptoms with the online symptom checker or call 111. Our Minor Injury Units at the Royal Gwent, Nevill Hall Hospital and Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr are open throughout the bank holidays and are there to treat a variety of minor injuries, including minor burns, sprains and bites.

"Please only attend the Emergency Department if absolutely necessary, and be prepared for a long wait if you do attend. Due to the extreme challenges we are currently facing, it's possible that you or a relative may receive treatment in an area that we wouldn't normally utilise."