A woman from the North Isles who turned up at the Gilbert Bain Hospital with a suspected broken foot was sent home without treatment because the hospital was “on holiday”.
Linda Drewery, 55, from Mid Yell had a fall at her home on Sunday. As she was in severe pain and unable to walk, her husband took a day off work on Monday to drive her to the Gilbert Bain’s A&E department. Mrs Drewery was hoping for an X-ray, and expected to be seen by a doctor.
But when she and her husband arrived, he pushing her in a hospital wheelchair, they were told it was bank holiday and no treatment was available.
Mrs Drewery queried this, and was told by a nurse who said: “We don’t do X-rays on bank holidays”. According to Mrs Drewery, she was not offered the service of any health professional, and was told nobody could be called out unless it was “life or death”. She felt she was interrupting a tea break, and said the nurse was “so dismissive”, leaving her no option but to go home.
Mrs Drewery said: “I burst out greeting in the car, I was in so much pain. I was really tired, I hadn’t slept the night before and my whole body was aching. My husband and I just stared at each other and said ‘did that really happen?’ I didn’t know hospitals had holidays.”
And, she added: “There was nowhere else to go [except the hospital]. It’s not right, there should always be someone there. Nobody kens when they’re going to have a fall.”
Her husband had joked, on the way home, that there would have been more chance of an X-ray at the vet’s.
Her mother had worked in the hospital in the 1960s, and Mrs Drewery said: “I don’t remember her having holidays.”
When she got home she phoned the hospital to clarify the situation, and was told it was a “hospital holiday”. However the senior nurse pledged to investigate.
Mrs Drewery, who had started a cleaning job a week ago, called the incident “absolutely disgusting”. Her injury had been strapped up by her local Mid Yell GP on the night of her fall, she said, but she could not put her foot to the floor and had been advised to go to the hospital for more complete treatment.
However she had not been told that the X-ray service was not available 24 hours.
The Shetland Times understands that Monday was an NHS Shetland holiday for non-clinical and non-critical staff only.
NHS Shetland spokeswoman Carolyn Hand said: “We cannot comment on the circumstances of the individual patient, but if they would like to get in touch directly then we would of course want to follow up the concerns specifically.
“In general terms clinical support services provide a reduced service on NHS Shetland public holidays – this includes medical imaging and laboratory services which provide on call cover only for emergency cases. If the medical staff had considered an X-ray was necessary then this could have been organised, but without more information it is not possible to explore what clinical decisions were made and by whom.
“Our public holiday dates are circulated internally, so health centres and other NHS providers are aware of when they fall during the year. We will however raise this at the Joint Management meeting to ensure that colleagues in primary care are aware that this issue arose and to be sighted on public holiday dates for the rest of the year when they do not fall on ‘official’ dates such as the festive period.”
The incident had a better outcome when on Tuesday Mrs Drewery was telephoned by her local health centre to say that a taxi would pick her up to take her to the hospital the following day.