A PATIENT spent hours on a trolley in an A&E department as staff struggled to find a bed for him, a damning report says.
William Convery spent 11 hours in the emergency unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary before finally being moved to a ward where he later died.
His wife, Sandra, said he had been on a trolley the whole time he was in A&E, while NHS Grampian said he was moved to a bed after six hours.
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Jim Martin said whatever the case, the 67-year-old had spent an unacceptable period of time on a trolley.
He also criticised the hospital staff for the insensitive way they dealt with his wife, who did not make it to the hospital to see her husband before he died.
Yesterday, Mrs Convery, from Turriff, Aberdeenshire, said she was delighted the ombudsman had upheld all her complaints and said she hoped no other families would have to go through a similar experience.
Mr Convery had heart surgery in October 2012, but was later readmitted as an emergency with stomach pains in November.
He arrived at the hospital at 9:20am and was later assessed, with arrangements made to move him to the Acute Medical Assessment Unit (AMAU).
However, NHS Grampian said this was not possible due to large numbers of other patients also needing to be transferred there. He was moved to the AMAU 11 hours later and seen by a doctor at 9:50pm and 11:10pm.
He became unwell at 6am the next day and was transferred to the high dependency unit, but his condition declined and he died at noon of a severe bowel disorder.
Mrs Convery complained to the ombudsman about the delays her husband suffered, including the time spent in A&E on a trolley and in seeing a doctor after being transferred. She said the long waits prejudiced her husband’s chances of survival.
In meetings with Mrs Convery, the board apologised for failings, but a consultant said they were of the view that even if he had been on a ward sooner, his outcome would not have changed.
One of the ombudsman’s advisers said it was unacceptable for any patient to be on a trolley or in a cubicle for the length of time experienced by Mr Convery. However, they said that a diagnosis of his condition – ischaemic bowel – was notoriously difficult and frequently missed in its early stages so even if he had been seen earlier, the nature of his illness may still not have been revealed.
The ombudsman said: “After an initial assessment in the emergency department, he remained on a trolley for an unacceptable period of time. Then he failed to receive further treatment or to be re-examined.”
Mrs Convery was at home 60 miles from the hospital when she received a call to get there “now” as her husband’s condition deteriorated. But due to delays in contacting her she arrived after he had died.
The ombudsman said the delay in calling her to hospital and the way the death certificate was presented showed a “fundamental lack of sensitivity” by staff.
Mrs Convery welcomed the ombudsman’s findings and order of an apology from the board. She said: “The way he was treated was disgusting.”
NHS Grampian said it accepted the findings of the report.
“On this occasion we fell well short of the standards of care and compassion we aspire to,” a spokesman said.