A UNION leader today demanded an inquiry after delays at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s casualty department.
An influx of patients on Sunday saw waiting times rocket.
It is claimed the delays left distressed patients waiting on trolleys in A&E.
Problems are believed to have started at midday and continued until 8pm as medical staff worked to find adequate space for patients on wards.
An eyewitness described the situation as “at crisis point” and claims one patient waited as long as six hours for treatment.
He said: “There were patients waiting on trolleys in the middle of A&E with about 2ft between them – some had been there for hours. Paramedics were standing around having to wait with patients.
“There were elderly patients who were upset and distressed, patients who were really poorly. There was no dignity there.
“It wasn’t as if it was a holiday weekend to have caused a sudden rise, but it was at crisis point.”
NHS waiting time targets stipulate 95 per cent of patients should be seen within four hours. This means either treated and discharged or transferred to a ward for further care.
Bob Parkinson, branch secretary of Unite at the North West Ambulance Service, has now vowed to get answers.
He said: “We are aware of the situation at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and will be asking for an investigation on behalf of the ambulance crews and patients who were caught up in the delays.
“We hope for action to prevent this happening again.”
Hospital managers were forced to open overflow wards to accommodate what they say was an “unprecedented” number of patients attending A&E.
Pat Oliver, director of operations at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We saw unprecedented levels of attendance with close to 700 people coming through our doors.
“On an average weekend we would normally expect around 500. Of the 700, there were a large number of patients with very complex needs, 200 required admission to hospital.
“In order to meet additional demand, we reconfigured our beds to ensure patients were accommodated.
“Despite this huge surge in admissions, staff responded brilliantly to keep delays to a minimum.
“More than 95 per cent of patients were seen within four hours and 93 per cent were seen in less than three.
“We apologise to patients who experienced a longer wait than normal.”
A North West Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “It has been a very busy weekend in the Fylde sector with 79 immediately life threatening incidents.”
“At extremely busy times we endeavour to work closely with the hospital to ensure patient handovers are as quick as possible.”