Wheelchair-bound Hemel Hempstead man claims he was 'abandoned' by hospital staff for 12 hours after suspected heart attack

George Collins says he was not given pain relief or water at Watford General Hospital

By James Lowson
Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 11:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 11:42 am

A Hemel Hempstead man has claimed he was abandoned for at least 12 hours at Watford General Hospital after a suspected heart attack.

George Collins, 44, who has been wheelchair-bound since being involved in a collision in 2019, says that after being given initial treatment he was left on his own for between 12 and 18 hours – and didn’t receive water or any communication from staff at the hospital.

The hospital trust has said it does everything it can to keep patients in its emergency department safe – but that it is experiencing ‘experiencing extremely high numbers of attendances’ to its emergency department.

George Collins

While George didn’t lose consciousness in Queens Square in Adeyfield last Tuesday (12 July), he believed he had all the symptoms synonymous with a cardiac event.

He describes a sensation of feeling like he’d been stabbed in both his chest and under his armpits.

George recalls hearing one of the paramedics radio back to his dispatch asking for an ambulance to be sent to the scene.

But ultimately, responders were unable to arrange an ambulance for George to get to the hospital – which is roughly 12 miles away.

Watford General Hospital (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The same paramedic called and paid for a wheelchair-accessible taxi to collect George as soon as possible, so the 44-year-old could receive immediate help after the potentially life-threatening episode.

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George was given medical help and received chemicals used to assist someone who has suffered a potential cardiac episode when he arrived at the hospital – but says that he was then left alone in a room for between 12 and 18 hours without any contact from staff on the ward.

George told The Hemel Hempstead Gazette: “I’m diabetic and it took me at a bare minimum 12 hours to get a glass of water off someone."

He was also given no pain relief during his time on that ward, something of extreme importance to him since his devastating spinal injury three years ago.

"It was absolutely manic [at the hospital],” George says.

"There were people all over the place shouting, ‘I’ve been here 15 hours’, ‘I’ve been here 17 hours, and still haven’t seen a doctor, let alone spoken to one’. ’Why is that medical person speaking to me in that manner?’ Various comments like that.”

A spokesperson from West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust told The Hemel Hempstead Gazette: “We are always sorry when any patient experiences delay to their treatment. We do everything we can to ensure that patients in our emergency department are kept safe and do not come to harm while they are waiting.”

“We are experiencing extremely high numbers of attendances to our emergency department and urge people to help us to help them by continuing to access our services appropriately, attend appointments, and by contacting NHS 111 (111.nhs.uk) for urgent care so that they can be directed to the best local service for them. Always call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.”

NHS facilities have been dealing with severe backlogs largely linked to the strain on resources and focus placed on treating Covid patients since the pandemic began.