'This is torture' - Gloucester Royal Hospital A&E under fire as overcrowding sees people left in corridors

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Conditions inside Gloucestershire Royal Hospital's A&E have been compared to torture, with patients left in corridors for hours.

One man who spoke to ITV West Country had to wait more than five hours to be seen after being taken to the hospital via ambulance with chest pain.

The hospital has apologised, saying his experience fell "far short" of the care it strives to achieve.

The emergency department has had to cope with increased demand since the A&E in Cheltenham were closed to ambulances during the pandemic

As a result ambulances have had to be sent to Gloucestershire Royal instead, with as many as 20 queuing outside its doors at peak times.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust now says focussing its emergency care on a single site has put Gloucestershire Royal Hospital under considerable pressure. 

Cllr Guy Maughling Credit: ITV News West Country

Guy Maughling and Professor Robert Arnott - who were admitted on separate occasions - told ITV News West Country about the overcrowded and chaotic conditions they experienced. 

“This is torture” 

Guy was admitted by ambulance to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital's A&E department with chest pain but says he was “shocked” by what he experienced.

He said: “I have lived in Africa for a very long time and I have worked in the hospitals in Uganda Tanzania and Kenya.

“It was very very crowded and it was clear that the doctors are nurses did not have the time to deal with everyone who was there. And they were under immense pressure I was quite shocked actually.”

Mr Maughling, who is also a Cheltenham borough councillor, says the staff were working flat out, but the place was overcrowded.

He said: “There were people who were clearly in great pain because there was someone who was shouting every five minutes 'this is torture'. And then groaning a lot.

"I waited five and a half hours before I finally saw a doctor.”

Professor Robert Arnott Credit: ITV News West Country

"I’ve never seen anything like it” 

Professor Robert Arnott worked as a senior manager in the NHS before becoming an academic studying the history of medicine.

He has been admitted to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital by ambulance several times during the past year. He told ITV News West Country the staff were brilliant, but the conditions were unacceptable.

He said: “They [the conditions] were awful. I mean I've been in NHS hospitals, I've worked in them, and I've never seen anything like it.

"I saw the ambulances queue up, I saw the trolleys in the corridor, I saw people's anguish and anger about not seeing the doctor for eight hours, and some of them - the elderly - were frightened of what the condition was. 'Why have I been brought here? Am I alright? Am I injured? Am I going to die here on this trolley?'

"That's the issue, that's what I saw, that's what concerned me and made me angry.”

In a statement Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:  “We are very sorry to learn of this patient's experience, which falls far short of the care we strive to achieve and deliver on the majority of occasions.”

It added: “Focussing emergency care on a single site, alongside the additional impacts of social distancing, inevitably put GRH under considerable pressure at times.

"Thankfully, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic we are in a position to restore Cheltenham A&E to its former status. We will do this in two stages starting tomorrow.” 

Cheltenham General Hospital's A&E will begin reopening to ambulances from 8am-8pm on Wednesday 9 June.

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