Retired headteacher in seven hour wait at Gorleston’s James Paget University Hospital

A retired Gorleston headteacher spent eight tired and hungry hours waiting to be seen at the James Paget University Hospital, with nothing but a baked potato to keep her warm.

Former head of Bradwell’s Hillside Primary School, Barbara Tildesley, 85, was kept waiting in the waiting room at the Gorleston Hospital on November 5 after falling ill with what she thought was a repeat of the symptoms which saw her admitted previously.

Having had what she describes as “a funny turn” two weeks before, when she temporarily failed to remember a friend she has known for years, Mrs Tildesley says JPH doctors told her she should be given a bed immediately should she take another turn.

So a fortnight later she went to see her GP after falling ill while shopping, who rang the hospital and arranged for her to go in.

After four hours waiting in the JPH from 11.30am, during which time a nurse took blood from her hand, friends who had come to support her had to leave.

And the normally active and sociable Mrs Tildesley - who holds luncheons at the golf club nearby - says she was afraid to leave her seat to get something to eat in case she lost her place in the queue.

However, she was brought a baked potato by hospital staff at 6.45pm.

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Mrs Tildesley, who has poor eyesight, was finally seen by a doctor at 7.30pm, who told her it was a different problem and she would need a heart monitor. To date she has not been seen about this.

Mrs Tildesley said: “A note on my report said if anything like this happened again I had to be seen immediately.

“They paid for a taxi home but at my age I don’t think it is right to have to sit on a hard chair all that time. I was absolutely exhausted when I got back home, and ill.

“They told my doctor there was a bed but when I got there there wasn’t. All those hours and I never actually got a bed.”

Mrs Tildesley, whose husband Harry died 12 years ago, was so upset that she wrote a poem to express her feelings.

In it, the mother-of-one writes “So I’m 85 and still alive, goodness knows how long I’ll last

“Does no one care about us old dears with no future - only a past.”

A spokesman for the Paget said: “That day was a very busy one in our A&E department with 217 patients attending.

“The doctors and nurses have to decide which patients need to be seen first according to their clinical needs. On this occasion, we regret that meant the patient waited seven hours, and we apologise for that.

“We are always happy to look into any concerns a patient has and ask them to contact us through our Patient Advice and Liaison Service on any issue.”