Northern Irish sports commentator Mark Sidebottom has described the harrowing conditions he encountered after being admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast on Halloween night.
He said the overcrowded conditions were “worrying, troubling, dysfunctional” and promised the ailing health workers to share his story.
With an infection in his hands after receiving treatment for a previous sports injury, he said his arrival at the casualty and emergency room on October 31 was a scary experience.
Sidebottom shares his experience in an article for journalist Eamonn Mallie’s website, quoting a doctor as saying, “The system is broken, irreparably broken … A&E is just as desperate for radical surgery as anyone else you see let in here it feels sometimes seem like we are beyond life support … lives are put in danger. “
He spent a total of five days in the hospital – the first 17 hours in the emergency room, followed by 36 hours on the fourth floor of the RVH, and then two days in Musgrave.
When he first arrived at A&E at 6:00 pm, he talked about sitting on the floor for almost three hours and witnessing the “total chaos” of an overburdened department.
This included watching ranks break out between several drunken people and even some handcuffed by the police.
Mr Sidebottom said the experience scared him and made him vulnerable, but it also confused him about how the staff could function properly.
A nurse told him that the department had never been so overloaded that staff were leaving in droves and only contract workers prevented the collapse.
She said, “I’ll go home later and cry myself to sleep. Please tell the public what’s going on, please. “
After the sports reporter was seen by a specialist at midnight, he was admitted for intravenous antibiotics.
Two hours later, he said he had been informed that there were no beds or carts and that 24 were in line before him.
When he was offered a chair in the hallway, he remembered listening for four hours to a young man in a car “yelling methadone”.
When he was finally transferred to a ward that morning, he waited an additional six hours in an area “more cluttered than the Westlink during morning rush hour” while each employee performed “heroics”.
He described witnessing the humiliation of an 89-year-old woman with a broken hip who was forced to use a bedpan behind a thin curtain while five men sat nearby.
On a second night, a man with early-stage dementia also tried to escape, and staff tried to calm him down until his family arrived at 5 a.m. Mr Sidebottom said at the time that he had decided to get out of bed to sleep in a cart in the hallway. While thanking the NHS for its treatment, he said it was clear that the system was “broken, injured and besieged”.
He ended his report with another quote from a nurse.
“Tell them this has nothing to do with Covid-19, Mark. Tell them we have slept in this perfect storm for years … Covid made it worse but NHS management needs a call on this. Tell the people Markus. Please tell the people. “