The Accident and Emergency Unit at Tunbridge Wells Hospital was stretched to its limits over the holiday period with patients reportedly facing waits of up to 14 hours.
On New Year’s Day (Sunday) people who had waited for around six hours to be seen were reportedly told by one of the doctors: ” We have some seriously sick people behind these doors [pointing to inside A&E] and we’re sorry but you could be waiting for up to another eight hours.”
On Wednesday December 28 another doctor told those in the queue: “Just to keep you informed, there is a wait of about two and a half hours. Yesterday the wait was eight hours.”
One patient who asked not to be named told the Times:
“The unit was overwhelmed, it was really horrendous with sick people all over the place in corridors and on trollies. The staff were absolutely amazing, though, and made it quite clear that if you did not have a serious illness maybe you should leave and come back. Staff told us that patients were being referred to Pembury from Maidstone hospital. We actually did leave but I did not see any others go.”
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) told the Times today (Wednesday):
“While we will always try to see our patients as quickly as possible, 25 patients out of our 4,000 A&E attendances (over Christmas and the New Year) waited over seven hours to be treated by a doctor.
“All patients are triaged by a senior health care professional on arrival in A&E to ensure they are seen according to clinical need. The Trust ensures that patients are safe at all times and is always sorry when it is unable to see someone sooner than expected. No patients had to wait 14 hours.”