Plymouth man 'waited nine hours in the back of an ambulance outside hospital' with chest pains

  • Sam Blackledge reports on the continued pressure facing Derriford Hospital

A Plymouth man has described waiting four hours for an ambulance and another nine hours outside hospital before finally being given a bed.

Gary Bowman, who lives on the tenth floor of a tower block, suffered chest pains at his home in West Park last weekend and called 111, who sent paramedics.

"As soon as they got me to Derriford they took me in, initially for an ECG, bloods, a chest X-ray.

"Then I was put back in the back of the ambulance, and I was there until 8.30am the following morning, (which) stopped two paramedics and their ambulance going out, attending other emergencies."

Gary says staff and paramedics who treated him were excellent. Credit: ITV News

Gary was eventually given a bed, and is thankfully back home and on the mend. But he's just one example of a crisis which is almost becoming normality.

"I told my family if you ever need to go to A&E, I don't think I'd phone 999. You don't want to be stuck in the back of an ambulance."

Earlier this week University Plymouth Hospitals Trust announced yet another critical incident, the fifth one this year.

This one was triggered by IT problems, which affected key clinical systems within the hospital, making it harder to process patients and causing even longer backlogs than usual.

The critical incident ended on Friday morning.

The trust which runs Derriford Hospital has declared five critical incidents since the start of the year. Credit: ITV News

James Merrell, from the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Our members are still reporting that they are under constant pressure to do more for less, and the impact on them and their wellbeing is huge. So it's no wonder why nursing staff are leaving the profession."

Politicians on both sides are agreed that something needs to be done, and healthcare is sure to be a key issue when it comes the general election.Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said: "The crisis is deepening in our NHS, and there doesn't seem to be a clear plan from ministers as to how they're going to get their out of this situation.

"It's not just about the hospital, it's about the lack of primary care GPs, it's about social care falling over. It's a whole system problem and it's getting worse. We need a clear plan from government as to how are we going to fix it."

Parliamentary candidate Rebecca Smith says progress is being made. Credit: ITV News

Rebecca Smith, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for South West Devon, said: "It's clearly an issue when the hospital is under pressure like this.

"However, having met with them recently, I know that they're doing an incredible amount of work supported by the NHS to ensure that these critical incidences become a thing of the past.

"The most exciting thing is the new, urgent and emergency care treatment centre that is being built at Derriford that is going to free up the most emergency needs and enable a lot of those who just need to walk in and get same day emergency treatment to have that done."

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust said: “This week we have seen a high-level of operational pressure on our services and, alongside experiencing IT issues, we declared a Business Continuity Incident and Critical Incident.

"As the Major Trauma Centre for the southwest peninsula, we receive some of the most acutely unwell patients by air and road ambulance.

"We prioritise patients in order of clinical need, however we understand patients and their families will be concerned about long waits in ambulances and for access to some of our services.

"We apologise to patients who experience delays to their care, or postponements of planned surgeries. Our staff are working really hard to get patients to the right place, at the right time.”