A 90-year-old woman was left waiting in an ambulance outside a hospital for more than an hour.
Elizabeth Ramsey had been taken to the hospital with a chest infection at about 4.45pm on Monday but had to wait in the ambulance with her daughter Jacqueline Roberts, 60, outside Wrexham Maelor Hospital until 6.30pm.
When they eventually got into the hospital Mrs Ramsey, of Gwernaffield, Mold, had to wait on a trolley for two hours until she was seen by a doctor.
She was then assessed and had an X-ray but it was 11.30pm before she was admitted onto a medical assessment unit.
Today a spokesman for the hospital said a high volume of patients, coupled with ward closures as a result of a norovirus infection, led to the delay.
Mrs Roberts, also of Gwernaffield, said: “If I hadn’t lived through it I wouldn’t have believed it. There were five ambulances waiting outside the Maelor.
“I can’t be annoyed at the staff because they were doing their best – I have nothing but praise for them. They made my mum as comfortable as they could.
“But the ambulance drivers were at their wits end and said they should be out doing their job rather than sitting waiting – it’s so frustrating. The staff were so apologetic. But if there had been a tragedy what would they have done? They couldn’t have coped.”
A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We did experience some delays at Wrexham Maelor Hospital as the emergency department faced increased demand. It is important to note that when a patient remains in an ambulance they continue to be cared for by paramedics.”
It added: “We are unable to comment on individual cases, but should the family wish to contact us directly we will discuss their concerns with them.”
A spokesman for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “Firstly, we would like to apologise to any patient whose admission was delayed.
“The Health Board is currently experiencing a widespread outbreak of norovirus or the ‘winter vomiting disease’ and has introduced infection control measures and placed restrictions on its affected wards.
“The Wrexham Maelor Hospital received a total of 58 admissions on Monday and that, coupled with the fact they have six wards closed due to the outbreak of norovirus, has limited the number of available beds and increased the number and length of delays.”
- An ambulance service spokesman added: "People can play their part in helping the NHS free up life saving care by only using emergency departments and 999 emergency services when badly injured or showing symptoms of critical illness.
“Choosing well ensures that essential treatment is given in the shortest possible time.”
See full story in the Leader