Teen tells of 'ridiculous' 30-hour wait at Lister

Exterior of Lister Hospital in Stevenage

Tammin Williams, 18, suffered from pains in her chest after recovering from COVID - Credit: Courtesy of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

An 18-year-old was left waiting more than 24 hours to be seen at Lister Hospital - where she attended with chest pains and a high heart rate following a COVID recovery. 

Tammin Williams from Letchworth and mum Michelle told the Comet how a trip to A&E at the start of December - and a subsequent agonising wait to be seen by the medical team - resulted in a stint in hospital totalling a whopping 30 hours.

After recovering from COVID, Tammin was struck with severe pains in her chest, and was urged by her GP to go to Lister.

Tammin has a bowel condition and blood disorder, and was treated for low haemoglobin levels as a child at Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London.

She also suffers from COPD and was previously registered as a high-risk asthmatic.

"To go through COVID and be 13 days clear, and then randomly start suffering from a heart condition was a shock to both of us," Michelle said 

Tammin said: "I got COVID and after feeling better I started feeling worse. I went to the doctors because my chest was hurting, and my heart rate was at 130, just when I was sitting down."

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"I had an ECG and we sat and waited for a few minutes, and the doctor came back with a letter and said I should go to Lister, and the medical team at A&E should be expecting you."

From there, the waiting started.

Expecting somewhat of a hold up in a busy accident and emergency department, nothing prepared Tammin and Michelle for a wait on that scale.

"I'm a pretty patient person to be honest, but even I got frustrated. I was really tired because I hadn't had much sleep," Tammin said.

One nurse managed to get Tammin and Michelle a room in the early hours of Thursday morning, as A&E staff were growing increasingly unhappy with how long the mother and daughter were expected to wait for results from blood tests.

Michelle also said there was an abundance of ambulances waiting outside with nowhere to go, saying they were "racking and stacking them".

"I know that they're massively overstretched, and the trust - they need to start listening to the people that use these services. If you're stretched, do something about it!

"I know this is a free service, but technically it's not because we pay for it through our taxes."

She also stressed that her disdain is not directed at the A&E staff, who she had nothing but praise for.

Tammin said: "I'm pretty patient and understanding, but the wait was ridiculous, especially given the fact that it was for a heart thing. It's relatively serious. 

"It's not like by any means I'm unhealthy or unfit, it was a bit out of the ordinary. To be left for that long - I appreciate they have a waiting list - but for 30 hours..."

"Twice we went back to the beginning of the waiting list," Michelle added. "For whatever reason, by the next day, we were back down to what almost felt like the bottom."

She added that even trying to lodge a complaint was a "farce".

In response to recent reports of long waiting times, Dr Michael Chilvers, medical director at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said: “It continues to be very busy at the Lister, with a high number of people attending our A&E.

"We always see and treat people in order of clinical urgency, so unless you have a life-threatening illness or accident, you may wait a long time to be seen.

"Remember NHS 111 can give you advice on where is best to be treated, and only dial 999 in the case of a serious emergency.”