Edinburgh stroke victim with suspected broken hip who waited hours for ambulance was then 'offered trolley instead of bed' by A&E reception

John McCallum's partner decided to take him home after another five hour wait in A&E
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A stroke victim who was left on the floor of his living room for five hours while waiting for an ambulance was taken home from hospital after being offered a trolley next to the reception of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s accident and emergency department.

John McCallum, who had fallen on Thursday morning at around 10am and waited until nearly 3.30pm for an ambulance, escaped any broken bones but was still in incredible pain partly caused by his historic stroke.

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John McCallum's partner decided to take him home after another five hour wait in A&E at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.John McCallum's partner decided to take him home after another five hour wait in A&E at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
John McCallum's partner decided to take him home after another five hour wait in A&E at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
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Instead of being kept in overnight, the 74-year-old who was unable to walk went home without pain relief instead of sleeping on the trolley, the only offer due to a lack of beds.

His partner, Jane Clarke, said the offer was something you would not even accept for your dog and described the ERI’s A&E as “like a third country”.

Scottish Labour’s shadow health secretary, Monica Lennon, blasted the NHS and said people are “sick” of the SNP’s “boasting” around the performance of the health service.

'You wouldn't leave your dog on a trolley'

After around five hours in A&E, Jane decided it was time to take John home in a wheelchair rather than have him stay overnight on a trolley.

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Despite not breaking any bones due to the fall but unable to walk more than two steps, John was suffering from intense neuropathic pain linked to his stroke, but was sent home without pain relief, causing Jane to call his GP and get a prescription for co-codamol.

She said: ”You would not leave your dog on a trolley, it was absolute chaos.

“The preference would have been for John to be put on a ward with proper pain relief and physio in the morning to help him get mobile again.

“They never even asked if we had paracetamol.”

Despite the failings, Jane said the treatment of John was excellent and that NHS deserved praise for working in such difficult conditions.

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She said: “I don’t want this to be a witch hunt against the NHS staff, they are superb. However it is a sad reflection on our society that we have got to this stage and politicians have to wake up to the fact that John and I are a real liability for Scotland and there are so many of us and we’re not going to get better. There needs to be planning for the baby boomer generation and there is currently none.”

Labour’s shadow health secretary Monica Lennon said: “John and Jane have been badly let down, not by our overworked ambulance and NHS staff, but by the complacency and incompetence of SNP Ministers who have ignored the warnings from patients, staff and Audit Scotland for too long.

“Everyone is sick of hearing Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman being defensive and boasting that their record is better than other governments. It’s time they took some responsibility for what’s happening on their watch.”

Jacquie Campbell, chief officer, NHS Lothian, said: “I would apologise to any patient who has a long wait to be treated in the Emergency Department and I would reassure them that our expert teams are working hard to provide safe, high quality care.”

'Extremely sorry'

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We’re extremely sorry to hear Mr McCallum and his wife were distressed by their experience at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at the end of such a difficult day for them.

“A patient will always be admitted to hospital if in the view of clinicians that is the correct and clinically appropriate course of action and we are waiting further details about Mr McCallum’s situation from NHS Lothian.

“It remains the case that the ambulance wait Mr McCallum suffered prior to being treated in hospital was totally unacceptable - and the Health Secretary is awaiting a full explanation for this delay to be shared with her and Mr McCallum’s family.

“The Scottish Ambulance Service will rightly be contacting Mr McCallum to apologise for his wait and will also be carrying out an urgent investigation to ensure lessons learned from this case are applied across the Service.”

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