Pensioner, 87, waits 10 hours in an ambulance outside hospital after suffering stroke

Joanne Freeman, 87, was “screaming in agony” but treatment at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff for her stroke – likely caused by blood clots thanks to Covid – didn’t start for 12 hours

Joanne Freeman, 87, was left outside hospital for 10 hours after suffering a stroke
Joanne Freeman, 87, was left outside hospital for 10 hours after suffering a stroke

An elderly dementia patient waited 10 hours outside a hospital after suffering a stroke.

Joanne Freeman, 87, had contracted coronavirus two weeks earlier which had likely caused blood clots leading to the life-threatening medical condition when blood is cut off from the brain.

She arrived at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff at noon last Thursday but was moved to three different ambulances as paramedics finished their shift.

The pensioner was “screaming in agony and her hands were over her eyes” when her family called for an ambulance around 10.45am, a close relative said, reports Wales Online.

“She was saying her head was absolutely killing her.

“She lives by herself but has a carer who comes in four times a day who told us she was very distressed,” they explained.

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Mrs Freeman’s relative called the situation at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff as “diabolical”



Attempts were made to give Mrs Freeman paracetamol and other medication but she couldn’t take them or open her eyes.

Mrs Freeman was eventually given an IV drip and her family reached the hospital but had to wait outside in the ambulance.

The family member said she “felt sorry” for the paramedics as they changed shifts, with one allegedly revealing there were 47 standing calls but none could be attended to as all ambulances were in use.

They said there were a total of 16 waiting outside the hospital with patients inside.

Mrs Freeman was allegedly still being given paracetamol once she’d been admitted and the relative’s brother-in-law had to “raise his voice to get things sorted and a scan arranged”, they claimed.

Ambulances parked up at the RVI hospital, in Newcastle


Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

“He had to ask them to put fresh bedding on and change the dressing on her back – nothing was given, we had to prompt them,” they continued.

At midnight – 14 hours after Mrs Freeman was first struck ill – her family was finally told she’d suffered a stroke and at 3am she was moved to a specialist ward.

Referring to the stroke likely stemming from blood clots caused by Covid, the relative said: “We had been waiting for her booster for ages but as it’s a home visit she needs, there is a delay.”

Mrs Freeman caught Covid from one of her carers and came out of isolation on December 22.

Her relative said: “It’s just diabolical in there. I felt like I was in a third world country.

“You wouldn’t treat a dog like that. They were saying she needs to drink water yet ignoring that she couldn’t even hold a cup up.

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“We had to ask them for a drip.

“I know it’s because they are understaffed because of Covid so lack a lot of staff and resources but to think Joanne was treated as an urgent patient but still didn’t get seen for 12 hours is crazy.

“What baffles me is how she kept saying how much pain she was in and was having a stroke but she wasn’t seen for that amount of time.

“If it was a 50-year-old person, would they be treated in the same way? Or is it because there’s not space at the hospital? It’s just ludicrous.

“I feel like I was leaving her life in danger by leaving her in their care. It never used to be like that.”

A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “We sincerely apologise for the delays and experience Joanne has received during this time. Health and social care services across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are experiencing significant and sustained pressures which is leading to delays in care provision and the timely discharge of patients from hospital.

“This, in turn, is impacting on patient flow within our hospital and waiting times in our Emergency Unit. Our focus remains on patient care and our staff are working tirelessly to see patients in a timely manner dependent on their healthcare needs.

“While we are under these extreme pressures, we would ask the public that if they don’t have a life-threatening emergency to please call CAV 24/7 on 0300 10 20 247 so we can assess and direct patients appropriately. ”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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