Cassara Rodgers, four, from Croftfoot, Glasgow, was shuttled between two A&E departments for two days after splitting her lip last Friday afternoon.
Her father Alex took her to Glasgow’s Victoria Infirmary’s emergency department for basic treatment, where staff referred her to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill.
The family were then told to return to Yorkhill at 7am on Saturday, where Cassara sat for 12 hours before being told there was only one theatre and one surgeon operating, so they would have to return the following morning.
The little girl finally received her stitches and was discharged at 7pm on Sunday – nearly 50 hours after she was first taken to hospital.
Mr Rodgers, 32, criticised the “completely unacceptable” delays and raised concerns about the new South Glasgow University Hospital’s ability to deal with sick children after his daughter’s experience at Yorkhill.
Mr Rodgers, who works as a chef, said: “The nurses were embarrassed about fact we had been waiting so long.
“They told us to complain so that they could maybe get more staff.
“She only needed three stitches – it wasn’t a major surgery. But to have an open wound on her face for that long is just ridiculous.”
As Cassara had to undergo an anaesthetic, she was forced to fast for 24 hours, which left her feeling exhausted, distressed and physically sick.
Her father said: “Cassara could only have water on the Saturday and it made her feel so unwell. She was vomiting bile because she was so hungry.
“She was also completely bored – it’s not the ideal place for a four-year-old to have to wait for hours and hours.”
The “excessive” waiting time was criticised by Dr Jean Turner, patron of the Scotland Patients Association, who said the experience must have been distressing for the young girl.
She said: “It is difficult as very few members of the public have the medical knowledge to see when something is a minor injury and where to go.
“This might have just looked like a wee nick, but as if it is on the face then it needs to be handled carefully so she would have needed specialist treatment.”
Dr Turner, who worked as a GP in Glasgow, added: “It seems to have been a very long wait for such a young person.
“The reasons for the long wait, such a making sure there is a proper plastic surgeon, should have been explained properly to the family.”
Her concern was echoed by Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP, who called for ministers to ease the burden on overstretched A&E departments.
He said: “My heart goes out to the toddler and her family.
“It’s always upsetting to see your child go through pain and a 50-hour wait for three stitches would test anyone’s patience.
“This demonstrates why Scottish ministers must move quick in rolling out plans such as seven-day services and empowering community GPs to lift the burden on busy A&E departments.”
A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde apologised to Cassara’s family but said there was no problem with understaffing at Yorkhill. He said: “Regrettably her procedure had to be postponed due to a number of complex emergency cases.”