Elderly disabled man with dementia forced to wait 18 hours in A&E for bed at Northampton General Hospital

It took so long that nurses suggested his sister could leave the dementia sufferer there to 'get some rest'

By Max Pearson
Monday, 24th January 2022, 5:42 pm
Updated Monday, 24th January 2022, 5:46 pm

A 71-year-old dementia sufferer from Northampton was forced to wait 18 hours for a bed at Northampton General Hospital (NGH) after taking a nasty fall at home.

Brian Beaton was found by his sister, June Lambert, on Saturday (January 22) after the fall had left him bleeding from the nose and slumped against his bed. His sister said there was blood 'all over the place' and she found 'a big grey lump in his elbow, as if he had dislocated it'.

The disabled man had already suffered a fall earlier that day, resulting in an ambulance ride to NGH's A&E. June said the paramedics had warned her of six-hour plus delays for ambulances, so she drove him to the hospital herself after the second fall.

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Northampton General Hospital.

June said: "Once we got to the A&E at around 11pm I explained that he was disabled, as they could see with him in a wheelchair, and that he had mixed dementia. It took about an hour and a half to be seen by a nurse practitioner who said we needed a doctor.

"At about 12:30am a doctor got him on a trolley bed for blood tests, an EKG and so on and he was allowed to stay on that trolley. But after just 30 minutes they had him off it again and back in the wheelchair because they needed it for someone else.

"After seeing various consultants, it was decided my brother would be admitted to hospital. This was at 8am and my brother had been sat in his wheelchair all night. He was not used to this and the wheelchair is not designed to have someone sat in it for that long.

"When he needed the toilet, I had to rush around looking for a frame for him to move with. Then I couldn't fit him into the only toilet. In the end I, his sister, had to help him go in a urine bottle, which was not pleasant for either of us.

"After all day of my asking and asking and asking, they finally got him on a trolley bed again at about 3pm on Sunday. They'd been saying since 10am he would get a bed, yet a bed hadn't materialised.

"Even my brother said when they put him on the trolley; 'I hope they haven't put us in this room to forget us'."

The 71-year-old was finally given a bed at NGH at around 5pm on Sunday (January 23), after 18 hours of waiting.

The ordeal was so tiring for June herself that nurses reportedly suggested she leave her brother there to 'get some rest' at home.

According to June, a senior member of staff did apologise to her and complained that the number of beds in NGH have been reduced over time even as demand increases, thus resulting in the shortage.

A hospital spokesman said: “Hospitals in Northamptonshire are currently in a system-wide major incident and our A&E departments are extremely busy.

"We apologise to all patients and their families for waiting times which are longer than normal, including waits for hospital beds.

"Staff and partner organisations across our health and care system are working closely together to respond to the demand.”

June also stressed that people should not blame the staff themselves for the wait, saying: "This is not the staff's fault. They do a wonderful job with what they have to hand.

"But I still felt afraid for my brother."

Brian is now being treated for his injuries.