Pensioner had to find own travel between two hospitals for op

A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service vehicle.
A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service vehicle.

A Limavady pensioner says he had to make his own way between two hospitals more than 30 miles apart in order to secure a bed for an operation the next day.

Cathal McGuiguan said he was rushed into hospital on April 6 after collapsing in his kitchen with severe back pain.

The 74-year-old said he was “in agony” and was taken by ambulance to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine where he found out he had a stone in the kidney.

The pensioner said he was told Causeway Hospital didn’t carry out the procedure he needed and it would have to be carried out elsewhere.

Mr McGuigan said he was unable to stay the night in Causeway Hospital because there was no bed for him, however, he returned the next day on April 7 and was admitted.

The pensioner said he was told late that afternoon there was a bed for him in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry and the operation would be conducted on the Friday.

However, he said he was told he would have to make his own way there or risk losing the bed. He said he was fortunate his son was able to get him to Altnagelvin, but that others may not be so lucky.

A spokesperson for the NI Ambulance Service said they received a request for non-emergency ambulance transport at its Control Centre at 17:31 on Thursday 7 April to transfer a patient from Causeway Hospital to Altnagelvin.

“Non-emergency work is planned in advance and, as a result of the extremely heavy workload on our PCS and ICS tier, there is little capacity to facilitate requests at short notice.

“Regrettably, on this occasion, no resources were available to provide transport at this time. However, an offer was made to provide transport for the patient to Altnagelvin on Friday, April 8.This offer was declined.”

The Northern Trust said they could not comment on individual cases.