Norovirus sparks chaos at Wrexham's A&E department


Nathan Rowden

THERE were chaotic scenes at Wrexham’s A&E department yesterday as a virus outbreak caused long delays.

Patients were being treated in the back of ambulances with at one point up to 10 people queuing outside the Maelor’s emergency unit.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said the backlog was caused by an outbreak of norovirus – which had closed two of the hospital’s wards – coupled with high patient numbers.

The wards were closed after 14 people came down with symptoms of the highly contagious bug on Wednesday. Nine people were still showing symptoms yesterday.

As ambulances queued up outside, patients with minor injuries were told there would be a wait of at least three hours before they were seen because of the overcrowding.

Sarah Scott, from Wrexham, was at the hospital with her daughter, who had a suspected broken foot.

She said: “It has been horrendous in there.

“We have been in there ages and have been told there is going to be a three hour wait before we can get seen.

“I have heard that people are being treated in the back of ambulances, but I have no idea what the delay is.”

A member of staff at the hospital, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “At one point there were 10 ambulances all with patients in because there was no room in A&E.

“There just simply aren’t enough staff.

“I have had enough of this, it is at breaking point and we can’t cope any more.”

Brian Davies, from Rhos, was at the hospital visiting his son who had been taken in with heart problems.

“We have been ok, but there is a hell of a lot of people waiting in there.

“I’ve seen people getting treated in the back of ambulances.

“I do feel sorry for the doctors and nurses because they are doing the best they can.”

A Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to patients who have experienced delays to their admission to the Maelor in the last 48 hours.

“Emergency pressures do fluctuate during the day, and from day to day, at all of our A&E departments.

“Doctors and nurses at the Maelor are working extremely hard to cope with and reduce emergency pressures, due to a high number of patients being admitted through A&E and the impact of two wards currently closed because of norovirus, on bed availability.

“We are also working closely with our colleagues in the Welsh Ambulance Service and general practice to reduce admissions and to minimise delays at the A&E department wherever possible.”

See full story in the Leader

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