Published: 15:01, 14 November 2019
| Updated: 15:15, 14 November 2019
Hospital bosses have apologised to a 99-year-old war veteran left in agony on a trolley in A&E for almost 10 hours.
The great-grandfather, who is thought to be the city’s last living survivor of the Second World War Burma campaign, had been urgently admitted with gall bladder problems.
He was given pain relief but forced to wait in the emergency department, which was buckling under the strain of patient numbers.
His daughter, Hilary Casement, witnessed his hospital ordeal, describing the experience as “traumatic”.
“He lay for hours crying out in pain on a hard trolley,” she said.
“Eventually, with much pleading from me, he was transferred on to a slightly more comfortable hospital bed and eventually seen by the kind, but overworked, medical team.
“It is upsetting for anyone to be forced to wait 10 hours or more, but for a vulnerable older person who cannot easily ask for assistance, it is especially traumatic.”
Mr Fish, who lives at Old Rectory Care home in Harbledown, lost many friends from his platoon in Burma as they fought the Japanese in sweltering conditions.
“I was just lucky not to be one of them,” he told the Gazette in a recent interview.
Mrs Casement, of Rough Common, says she does not expect her father to receive preferential treatment because he is a war veteran.
But she added: “It’s sad that having fought for the freedom of this country as a Captain in the Royal Engineers, he has been forced to experience an overcrowded and underfunded system in his twilight years.
“I hope the hospitals trust can give the residents of Canterbury and east Kent some reassurance that appropriate measures are being taken to avoid lengthy and stressful waits in A&E during a notoriously busy time of year.”
In October, 3,804 patients endured waits of more than four hours at A&E departments in east Kent - 199 more than in the same month last year.
Across the county hospitals trusts failed to admit an extra 2,846 people in time over the same period.
A spokesman for East Kent Hospitals said: “We are very sorry that Mr Fish waited longer than we would want in our emergency department. We apologise to Mr Fish and his family for the distress this caused.
“Eight in ten people who attend our emergency departments and minor injuries units are treated, admitted or discharged within four hours. But our emergency departments can get extremely busy, which can mean that some patients wait longer than we want them to.
“When people are waiting for treatment, staff regularly monitor their safety and comfort, and work hard to control any pain and meet their care needs.”