News, Culture & Society

Pneumonia-stricken woman, 96, was left on a trolley in A&E for 40 HOURS because of a lack of beds

A 96-year-old woman battling pneumonia was left on a trolley in A&E for 40 hours.

Pensioner Evelyn Gaw could not be moved to a ward because of a lack of beds, the Health Secretary was told yesterday.

In the latest shocking example of NHS chaos under the SNP, the former headmistress was left ‘frightened, crying, breathless and disorientated’ in a draughty corridor at an Ayrshire hospital.

The case was described as ‘morally abhorrent’ to Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, who faced demands to tear up and rewrite his NHS recovery plan.

During a Holyrood debate on the health service crisis, Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane raised the case of the great-grandmother, who was taken to A&E by ambulance after collapsing last Thursday.

Her son, a GP of 39 years, said his mother felt that she had ‘lost her dignity’ because of the ‘disastrous and completely unacceptable’ situation at University Hospital Crosshouse in Kilmarnock.

Pensioner Evelyn Gaw could not be moved to a ward because of a lack of beds at University Hospital Crosshouse in Kilmarnock (pictured), the Health Secretary was told yesterday

While the latest case of NHS chaos occurred in Scotland, NHS England is facing its own crisis. NHS figures show 6.8million patients were in the queue for routine hospital treatment in July, equivalent to one in eight people. Nearly 380,000 have been waiting for over one year

While the latest case of NHS chaos occurred in Scotland, NHS England is facing its own crisis. NHS figures show 6.8million patients were in the queue for routine hospital treatment in July, equivalent to one in eight people. Nearly 380,000 have been waiting for over one year

Emergency unit data shows that three in 10 people in England were forced to wait longer than four hours in A&E departments in August, while nearly one thousand per day waited for 12 hours

Emergency unit data shows that three in 10 people in England were forced to wait longer than four hours in A&E departments in August, while nearly one thousand per day waited for 12 hours

Ambulance response times in England recovered slightly in August but the time taken for paramedics to arrive on the scene was still well above targets

Ambulance response times in England recovered slightly in August but the time taken for paramedics to arrive on the scene was still well above targets

Cancer patients starting treatment within two months of an urgent referral increased from 59.9 per cent in June to 61.6 per cent in England in July. But the figure is below the 85 per cent standard, which hasn't been hit since 2014

Cancer patients starting treatment within two months of an urgent referral increased from 59.9 per cent in June to 61.6 per cent in England in July. But the figure is below the 85 per cent standard, which hasn’t been hit since 2014

During a Holyrood debate on the health service crisis, Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane (pictured) raised the case of the greatgrandmother, who was taken to A&E by ambulance after collapsing last Thursday

During a Holyrood debate on the health service crisis, Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane (pictured) raised the case of the greatgrandmother, who was taken to A&E by ambulance after collapsing last Thursday

Dr Norrie Gaw added: ‘She’s usually fit as a fiddle and lives alone with the help of wonderful carers but suddenly developed a chest infection that wiped her off her feet.

Pinched, taunted and even SLAPPED: Secret BBC Panorama probe uncovers ‘toxic culture’ at one of UK’s biggest NHS mental health hospitals

Staff working at one of Britain’s biggest mental health hospitals pinched, taunted and even slapped patients, according to a damning BBC investigation.

A ‘toxic culture’ at Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, Bury, saw nurses humiliate vulnerable people suffering with schizophrenia, autism and other conditions.

An undercover reporter for Panorama, who spent three months working there, witnessed staff swearing at patients, inappropriately restraining and even behaving sexually towards them.

Patients at the hospital are held under the Mental Health Act and are deemed at serious risk of harming themselves or others. Some of them have committed crimes, including murder.

Whistle-blowers had claimed staff were behaving poorly and infringing the safety of people living at the institution, which prompted the secret probe.

Police have now opened an investigation into the hospital, which has a capacity for 150 patients, after being shown the harrowing footage. Officers looking through the evidence said anyone caught committing a crime will be prosecuted.

The investigation, which aired last night, showed nurses swearing at patients, calling one who was suicidal a ‘fat c***’ and joking about her slitting her own throat.

Patients were kept in tiny seclusion rooms designed for short-term isolation, some of which smelled of sewage and were mouldy, for months at a time.

Experts said the staff behaviour was dangerous and ‘really concerning’, adding they acted ‘like a gang, not a group of health care professionals’. 

‘When she got to A&E a diagnosis was made within 90 minutes and she needed a hospital bed but there were absolutely no beds available.

‘The staff were clearly utterly exhausted but fantastic and very apologetic, but she had to be taken on a trolley to wait in a corridor because of the lack of beds.

‘It was absolutely lined with patients, and this is not an exception — this is now the norm.’

He said Mrs Gaw, who has six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, ‘grabbed my hand and didn’t want me to leave her side’. 

He added: ‘She hated it. She was totally distressed, frightened, crying, breathless and disorientated.

‘It was horrible to see, and horrible to have to leave her.’

Last week, figures showed Scotland’s A&E waiting times were the worst since records began, with 36.5 per cent of patients not seen within the four-hour target.

Mr Yousaf was condemned for lauding a marginal improvement in this week’s figures, with Dr Gulhane branding him ‘unfit to be in charge of health’.

Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf have attempted to deflect blame by claiming the NHS in England and Wales is performing worse.

Despite Dr Gulhane challenging him to respond, the Health Secretary failed to acknowledge Mrs Gaw’s traumatic experience.

Dr Gaw said: ‘Humza Yousaf was asked whether he regarded this as morally abhorrent and he completely ignored it. I think that just shows the policy is to ignore the facts and ignore there is a crisis in the health service.

‘It’s indicative of the denial from him and the First Minister, and until they recognise that, they are not going to put in place measures that work.’

Mrs Gaw, who worked at Hayocks Primary in her home town of Stevenston, Ayrshire, has since been moved to a ward with ‘fabulous staff’ and her condition is improving.

Dr Gulhane accused Mr Yousaf of ‘clinging on to his flimsy NHS recovery plan, which isn’t working and needs to be rewritten ahead of winter’.

He added: ‘Workforce planning is poor. Nursing vacancies are up 25 per cent in a year and stand at over 6,000. In the past year, around 15,000 workers left the NHS – the highest number in a decade.’

Labour health spokesman Jackie Baillie accused Mr Yousaf of ‘dangerous incomtotal petence’, adding: ‘It’s almost 500 days since this Cabinet Secretary took office.

‘His performance in that time has unfortunately been woeful and the consequences have been devastating for our NHS, for the hard-working staff and for patients.’

Across Scotland, 26,403 patients attended A&E in the week ending September 18. A of 8,931 waited four hours or more to be seen, with 2,697 waiting more than eight hours and 998 longer than 12 hours.

Mr Yousaf said Dr Gulhane had not mentioned Covid, ‘the biggest shock our NHS has ever faced’. He added: ‘To deny the severe impacts of the pandemic… is quite frankly to deny reality.

‘I accept that it’s cold comfort for people waiting excessively for A&E treatment but this is not a uniquely Scottish problem – health services right across the world are facing this challenge.

‘Scotland’s A&E performance continues to be the best in the UK, not by a small margin but by quite a margin.

‘But I accept, again, that more has to be done.’

NHS Ayrshire & Arran said it could not comment on a specific case due to patient confidentiality but added: ‘Unfortunately, sometimes patients have waited significantly longer than we would wish and we unreservedly apologise for that.’ 

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