Elderly woman left starving for 14 hours in ambulance

20/06/2024

 A 96-year-old woman from the North East region was left starving in an ambulance for a staggering nine hours after being transported from a Banchory care home on June 4th.

By the time she was admitted to the hospital, the elderly patient had gone 14 hours without a meal.

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The unacceptable delay and its impact on the vulnerable woman was raised during health questions at Holyrood by Liam Kerr, a Scottish Conservative MSP.

He questioned Neil Gray, the SNP Government minister, about what measures have been taken to address the long-standing issue of ambulance stacking at ARI, which has been a persistent problem since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adam Coldwells, the chief executive of NHS Grampian, acknowledged the situation during a board meeting on June 13th.

He stated that the health board was working to address “periods of exceptionally high demand” that have led to such distressing incidents.

Mr Kerr said: “People in the North East were shocked to read reports of a 96-year-old woman waiting outside ARI for nine hours due to ambulance stacking and hadn’t eaten for 14 hours by the time she got admitted.

“Now we must be clear that everyone from the ambulance crew to the hospital staff did their jobs well, but the turnaround times they’re expected to work with are already unacceptable and becoming unbelievable.

The case of the 96-year-old woman highlights the urgent need for action to improve patient care and ensure that no one, especially the elderly and vulnerable, is subjected to such prolonged and inhumane waiting times in the future.

It followed the description of 2023 as a “dark period” which saw Scotland’s longest ambulance turnaround times.

Mr Gray said: “There is no defending that, it’s unacceptable. And I apologise to the patient in question and their family for the situation that they have endured.

“In terms of the direct action we’re taking with NHS Grampian around the pressures that there are around the ARI, I have asked for an improvement plan, which will see the pressures on both of the accident and emergency department but also throughout the hospital, to be addressed.”

Mr Kerr added: “I am really hopeful that the treatment plan gives NHS Grampian and the Scottish Ambulance Service some breathing room to treat patients quickly.

“But there’s a wider issue here about the lack of inpatient space, and frankly, the loss of local health settings across the North East like MIUs.

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