No treatment on hospital holiday

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.


Add Your Comment
  • Ali Inkster

    • October 18th, 2015 16:59

    So what would happen if someone was taken in in a serious condition on a holiday, would treatment be delayed while someone is located to operate the x-ray? Should our head of NHS Shetland be dividing his time with Orkney if he can’t even keep on the top of this?

    • Henry condy

      • October 22nd, 2015 17:08

      I remember in1972 damaging my ankle , it was a Saturday , I had just finished a half shift, I went to Bangour Hospital West Lothian, they wouldn’t X-Ray it , stuck on a crepe bandage, got it X -Rayed on the Monday, so no change there then, probably same criteria as now

      • iantinkler

        • October 22nd, 2015 21:04

        Henry, at least someone in A and E looked at your ankle. As I understand it that is attention more than Linda had.

  • iantinkler

    • October 18th, 2015 18:13

    This is unbelievable, what kind of an A and E is this. The complication from trying to walk on a fracture are extremely serious and can lead to amputation and worse. Is this our SNP fully devolved NHS after eight years!!!

  • Gordon Harmer

    • October 19th, 2015 6:33

    Maybe if the Scottish government got on with the job of running the NHS instead of setting parameters which would spark off another referendum this kind of incident would not happen. Think back to the lies they told just before the referendum about Westminster being a threat to the Scottish NHS because of privatization. New figures reveal the hypocrisy of the SNP after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged to block any privatisation of the NHS.
    Scotland’s health boards have paid private firms a record £82.5million to treat patients. The cash provided services on the NHS in 2014-15 – and was up from £75.9million in the previous year.
    Public spending on private health care has now more than doubled since the SNP came in to power. The increase comes despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s pledge to save Scotland from the “creeping privatisation” of the NHS south of the border. The SNP are privatising our NHS right right under our noses and we are suffering the consequences.

    • Derick Tulloch

      • October 23rd, 2015 15:11

      Dear oh dear, Gordon,

      Some context ta correct sprootleen and frushin.

      Total Scottish NHS budget 2014/15 £11.857bn = £11,857,000,000
      Of which the Capital budget was £254m = £254,000,000
      And the Revenue budget was hence £11.6bn = £11,603,000,000
      Portion of the revenue budget paid to private firms £87.5m
      £87.5m as a percentage of £11.6bn = 0.75%

      “NHS Boards…typically use the private sector to help meet waiting time targets
      and standards and also where specialist treatment is not available in the NHS.” Source: NHS in Scotland 2015, The Auditor General for Scotland, October 2015

      NHS Scotland’s overall budget will increase by 1.4% in 2015/16. And that at a time when Westminster has cut the budget available to the Scottish Parliament by 10% in real terms between 2010/11 and 2015/16. John Swinney has actually worked a minor miracle to protect the NHS Scotland’s budget.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • October 23rd, 2015 17:33

        Derick this is what Audit Scotland has confirmed; the SNP Government in Edinburgh has cut spending on health whilst a range of key targets have been missed. When will people hold their government to account for the services they are fully responsible for?
        And before you just reply with “SNP bad” then consider that the first minister asked to be judged on her record. This is her record after 8 years in power.
        A report from Audit Scotland, “NHS in Scotland in 2015”, shows that:
        •The Health budget decreased by 0.7% in real terms between 2008/09 and the last financial year, 2014/15
        •The NHS is missing targets in seven out of nine key performance indicators – and performance is going backwards
        •Use of expensive private agency staff has increased by 53%
        •Use of private doctors to cover shifts increased by 22%
        •71% of vacancies for A&E staff lie unfilled for six months
        The report concluded that the SNP Government are not making sufficient progress towards their own 2020 vision for a health service that is able to shift the balance of care to patients’ homes and communities rather than hospital wards. If you did your homework you would know as does Mr Hosie thanks to Mr Neil that according to the Scottish governments own figures the Scottish budget has not been cut.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • October 23rd, 2015 19:59

        Derick before the referendum you were scaremongering saying what ever changes to spending on the English NHS would have a knock on similar affect to the Scottish NHS. Meaning if there was a drop in spending south of the border there would be similar north of the border. So tell me as there has been a 3.9% increase in NHS spending south of the border how come that is not reflected here in Scotland where there is a minus 0.7% decrease in spending. So as Andrew Neil so kindly pointed out to Stewart Hosie at the SNP conference according to the Scottish governments own figures the Scottish budget has most definitely not been cut, how do you account for the lack of investment in the Scottish NHS? Please can you also tell me why when the Scottish NHS is in meltdown why did Shona Robinson on the last day of the SNP conference state she would be spending the next six months trying to convert no voters to yes voters when the department she has responsibility for is failing. It is obvious to me the Scottish NHS is on the back burner while independence is paramount to the SNP.

  • Janice Pottinger

    • October 20th, 2015 12:42

    I am mystified at the fact that this article made front page news.

    I may be wrong, but my interpretation is that the GP was called out inappropriately for a minor injury and advised the lady that X-ray was not necessary. The patient subsequently decided upon themselves to make a trip to A&E the following day, unaware of the public holiday, which the GP had not told her about because there was no need for an x-ray.

    Come on Shetland Times, do you really think this merited the headlines?

  • iantinkler

    • October 20th, 2015 14:51

    Janice Pottinger, what is your source of information, or is your interpretation of events pure hearsay? Are you aware of patient confidentiality? If so and you have breached that confidentiality the consequences are most severe. Any medical professional or someone in their employ, who does that would be struck off or dismissed. I hope you have not breached confidentiality and your story is your owm make believe and may well be wrong, if so I shudder at your motive and why you should write so.

  • Janice Pottinger

    • October 22nd, 2015 12:08

    @ Ian Tinkler, I do not work for NHS. I used to, I also used to stay in Yell. I am merely reading between the lines.

    • iantinkler

      • October 22nd, 2015 13:50

      In other words you just made it up.!!! Nice.

      • Janice Pottinger

        • October 22nd, 2015 15:17

        When I went to school, “interpretation” meant your personal definition and understanding of a story.

        I don’t think my comment merits a rant from your good self. I respect the fact that you are a professional, however I merely gave an opinion of how it appears to me, an outsider.

        My whole point is the sensationalism of front page news was over the top! To tell the truth if this article had been on P5 etc, I’d have glimpsed at it and thought “what a load of rubbish”.

        I think our NHS work hard and deserve to take a public holiday, albeit being on-call for emergencies. It’d be nice to hear more of all the good work they do. eg. recognition of Geoff Day’s selfless services in Sierra Leone which ran later and made a very interesting read.

  • iantinkler

    • October 22nd, 2015 18:06

    Janice, sad your invented little story was so critical of Linda and her husband, virtually accusing them of wasting NHS time over trivia. Do you really believe people in pain should be turned away from A and E without any type of clinical examination. Just imagine, perhaps the strapping was too tight, something that simple could result in loss of circulation and result in an amputation. Never mind, the Scottish NHS work hard and deserve to take a public holiday! No doubt there will always be someone making up tales to justify neglect, maybe even a ex NHS employee.

    • Robert Sim

      • October 22nd, 2015 19:32

      Ian, attempting to intimidate someone on an internet forum like this by mentionimg breaches of confidentiality and the drastic consequences thereof when all they are they are doing is expressing an opinion based on the published facts is in itself poor behaviour.

      • iantinkler

        • October 23rd, 2015 11:45

        What published facts Robert, are you referring too. Please enlighten us.

      • Robert Sim

        • October 23rd, 2015 17:40

        The newspaper report, Ian.

  • Janice Pottinger

    • October 23rd, 2015 8:39

    Point taken.

  • Stella Winks

    • October 23rd, 2015 9:30

    JP’s scathing comments about the actions of a woman in dreadful pain are chilling and dismissive. “She took it upon herself…” well yes! We are adults and we do take it upon ourselves to attend A&E under such circumstances – it is our right! Should I feel the need to do so, I shall too, without another’s permission! Where did it say a GP assessed the condition? Maybe I missed it in the report. The issue here a lady was injured, in a lot of pain, very distressed and asking for help. Health care, police, coastguard etc are 24/7 and do amazing jobs. Perhaps this issue is an opportunity to revisit the protocol in place for front-line staff at the GBH in reference to calling out a radiographer. They are the ones facing this and the affects first hand, as well as other pleasures such as violent, injured drunks, addicts, unappreciative public and so on… Staff are bound by said protocols and any complaints should be directed higher up the tree methinks.

    • Robert Duncan

      • October 23rd, 2015 15:09

      “Scathing” indeed. I think a few people in this comment thread could do with calming down a bit…

  • Johan Adamson

    • October 23rd, 2015 10:43

    We visited A&E a while back when one toddler had fallen backwards off a bed and stopped herself with her elbow. They called out the radiographer then, she was a bit grumpy, but I would have thought that being ‘on call’ would mean that you might be called out and that is why you get paid.

    In this case it says that the doctor said she would need to be seen in hospital, so she made her own way there. It cost the NHS more on the Tuesday cos she had to get a taxi fae Yell. Cheaper than the Xray call out and less hassle for the patient?

    The out of hours xray on my daughter incidentally revealed nothing and we were sent home, only getting proper treatment in the 9-5 hours on the Monday. My daughter spent the weekend in pain, waking me at 3 am wanting pain relief. They sent the xray to Aberdeen on the Monday revealing a break. I wish I had done my very angry mother act and demanded more on the initial visit to avoid this troubled weekend.
    I think the number of comments reveal this as a newsworthy story.

  • linda drewery

    • October 28th, 2015 22:28

    Janice Pottinger,i would love to know where you got your so called facts from,it is well to be seen you made them up in your own head ,you talk as if you we know each other we dont ,so please share with the public and myself where you get your false facts from !!

  • Linda Drewery

    • October 29th, 2015 14:04

    I would like to make it very clear i dont know this woman Janice Pottinger,never heard of her before now,but i would like to say she would do best not to give up her day job what ever it is ,and stop trying to read between the lines in her words of peoples lives !,i would like to ask her was she there when i fell,were you in the Drs surgery no you were not ,my doctor never said any such thing that i didnt need an xray ,thats a very sick game you are playing on someone you dont even know ,but your comments have been sent to the Health Board ,and what has you once living in Yell got to do with anything ?


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.