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Patients reveal more horror stories as Princess Alexandra Hospital A&E faces ‘considerable increase’ in demand

More horrific details of a calamitous day in the A&E department at Princess Alexandra Hospital have emerged, including a patient vomiting into a bowl while lying prostrate on the floor and a woman being given intravenous antibiotics while standing.

The Indie was alerted to serious issues at the unit by an 80-year-old Elsenham man who, while attending the Harlow hospital unit on Monday, heard a nursing sister ask patients to call relatives for pillows and blankets because there were no beds and the hospital was full.

Our article sparked more horror stories, with a 56-year-old Stansted woman highlighting that there were not enough chairs in the special assessment unit where patients who need monitoring are too sick to stay in the general waiting area.

She watched as a woman was given intravenous antibiotics while standing and a man, who had been wheeled in kneeling on his wheelchair, ended up prostrate on the floor vomiting into a cardboard bowl.

The woman, who has just had surgery and spent six hours waiting in a chair, said a man being sick into a plastic bucket lost his chair every time he was called to have a blood test.

The man in the wheelchair was finally given a bed – but a woman suffering from dementia had to vacate it.

The woman insisted the staff were “magnificent”, adding the sooner a new hospital is built the better.

Another woman commenting on the Indie’s Facebook page on Tuesday said her husband was still in A&E having arrived at 11am on Monday.

She said at 9pm he was told, along with around 30 others, that there were no beds and they had either to sleep on the floor or in their cars.

She further described elderly people on floors and people shouting at reception staff.

The Elsenham OAP echoed the views of most patients, describing the staff as marvellous. He revealed nursing staff were being chased out by a sister and told to go home after they finished their shifts.

Stephanie Lawton, chief operating officer at the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We are sorry to hear about patients’ experiences at our emergency department. We would encourage them to contact our patient advice and liaison service (PALS) on 01279 827211 or email paht.pals@nhs.net so that we can follow up and provide individual support.”

She added: “As with all hospitals, we have seen a considerable increase in the demand for our urgent and emergency care services.

“We are working closely with our ambulance, community and primary care colleagues to identify all alternative pathways for patients to improve patient experience at our hospital at all times, including during periods of increased pressure.

“Demand for our services has been high across a variety of illnesses and injuries. We have also seen a small increase in Covid cases and diarrhoea and vomiting cases, which impacts on the capacity available.”

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