Plymouth hospital A&E 'shocking and chaotic' - staff abused as patients wait hours to be seen

A woman who spent Saturday night in a crowded hospital emergency department in Plymouth says what she witnessed was 'shocking and chaotic'.

Mum-of-four Becky Pritchett was sent to Derriford Hospital's A&E after falling down a flight of stairs and suffering a bruised arm.

She told ITV News she was shocked by what she saw.

"On my arrival there were ambulances queued outside, some of them had their doors open with patients in the back waiting to go in," she said.

Ambulances have frequently been seen queuing outside ED at Derriford Hospital.

"There were police vans there. There were patients pretty much in every seat waiting, some of the people had obviously been out drinking and I witnessed staff getting abused. It was disgusting, it's not on.

"Fortunately I was only a minor injury. But the ones that were going for X-Rays, it was a nine-hour wait for them.

"I can't fault the staff, they were brilliant. They were really, really good. It was a bit eye-opening."

ITV News approached Derriford Hospital for a response but no-one was available to comment.

Last week it was revealed the ambulance service in the West Country has the longest response times in the whole of the country.

South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT) said longer waiting times are being caused by handover delays, when patients are transferred from paramedics to hospital staff.

It says it is now experiencing "the most sustained period of pressure in its history".

Some patients face long waits to be treated. Credit: ITV News

SWASFT's response times for life-threatening and emergency incidents in October were found to be the slowest of any ambulance service in the country.

Will Warrender, chief executive of SWASFT, said: "The real thing that has changed and is having a crippling impact on our ability to perform as a service, is our ability to get our patients into hospital as quickly as possible."