NHS crisis: Four-year-old boy forced to sleep on hospital floor due to lack of beds

‘It was chaos,’ says the child’s mother

Peter Stubley
Sunday 08 December 2019 21:25 GMT
Jack Williment-Barr was discharged the next day after being diagnosed with influenza and tonsillitis
Jack Williment-Barr was discharged the next day after being diagnosed with influenza and tonsillitis

A four-year-old boy was forced to sleep on a hospital floor as he waited for more than eight hours in A&E.

Jack Williment-Barr laid down on a coat in Leeds General Infirmary’s emergency department after being taken to hospital with suspected pneumonia.

A photo showing him sleeping on the floor of a clinical treatment room has been widely shared online after it was published by the Yorkshire Evening Post on Sunday.

“It was chaos,” Jack’s mother Sarah Williment, who took the picture, told the newspaper. “The NHS is in crisis... It was so busy. There are just not enough beds.”

Jack was eventually given a bed on a ward after 13-and-a-half hours at the hospital. He was later discharged after being diagnosed with Influenza A and tonsillitis.

Hospital bosses have personally apologised to the family for the long wait in A&E, which they blamed on “exceptionally high levels of demand”.

It comes amid intense debate about the future of the NHS ahead of the general election on Thursday.

Labour, who claim the Conservatives want to sell off the NHS in US trade talks, described Jack’s ordeal as “absolutely horrendous” and called on the prime minister to apologise.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, said: “This is shameful. Boris Johnson should personally apologise to Jack and his family. A decade of Tory cuts has brought us to this crisis in our NHS.

“If the Tories win on Thursday, patients including children will suffer five more years of this. We need a Labour government to save our NHS.”

Jack was taken to hospital by ambulance on Tuesday with suspected pneumonia after being examined by his GP, his mother said.

The four-year-old was initially given a bed in the paediatric emergency department but was then moved into a clinical room because the bed was urgently needed by another patient.

The clinical room was only equipped with chairs and Jack ended up lying down on the floor with an oxygen mask on a coat.

“My son was forced to sleep on the floor,” said Ms Williment. ”He just couldn’t settle or get comfy, he said he wanted to lay down.

“He was not able to settle, he kept sitting on the floor. Jack’s coat was on the floor and he ended up laying on top of it.”

Dr Yvette Oade, chief medical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said the hospital was “extremely sorry” that no bed was available in the treatment room.

“This falls below our usual high standards, and for this we would like to sincerely apologise to Jack and his family,” she added.

“Our hospitals are extremely busy at the moment and we are very sorry that Jack’s family had a long wait in our emergency department. Our chief executive Julian Hartley has spoken to Jack’s mum and offered a personal apology.

“We have seen a significant increase in the number of people visiting our paediatric emergency department, and this week we saw the highest attendances we have seen since April 2016. Despite this, our staff are working tirelessly to provide the best possible care under these extreme pressures.”

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