A WIDOW aged 88 was forced to wait in a hospital corridor for more than seven hours before being seen and then endured a nine hour wait for an ambulance just a couple of weeks later.

Irene Pollard MBE, who has type two diabetes, high blood pressure and serious mobility problems, was taken to A&E at Inverclyde Royal by a friend when she became ill with severe back and jaw pain on September 17.

She was placed in a wheelchair and signed in at 4.30pm, but didn't see a doctor until midnight.

After a spell in hospital Irene was discharged home but she was left suffering another lengthy ordeal when she took unwell again on October 5.

Irene, of Eldon Street, says her hospital wait was a 'dreadful' experience.

She said: "I felt like I could have cheerfully died.

"I was feeling very ill and had called the doctor who said he'd send an ambulance, but my friend took me up to save me waiting.

"I was desperate for the loo up there and asked the cleaner if she could take me to the toilet but she told me she wasn't allowed.

"A woman who was with another patient overheard and took me to the toilet and she spoke to a porter who brought me a cup of tea.

"I would like to thank the very kind lady and the porter."

A series of tests showed Irene's poor kidney function - caused by her diabetes medication - was worse than usual.

Although Irene praised her treatment when she was finally admitted to a ward she insists she shouldn't have had to wait so long and says she worries about the hospital and local patients.

She said: "I've still got my marbles and can speak up for myself but what about all the other poor souls who can't?

"The people of Inverclyde have been systematically robbed when you think of all the departments we have lost at our hospital over the years in maternity, gynaecology, children's ward and ear, nose and throat."

When Mrs Pollard became unwell earlier in the month this time a GP at Gourock Health Centre called an ambulance - and she waited from 5pm until 2am the following morning for it to arrive.

Irene said: "My carer was in and she didn't like the look of me and called the doctor.

"He said by the time it took him to come out, it would be quicker getting an ambulance, but it was nine hours."

After going through a battery of tests Irene's poor kidney function was again identified as the issue and she hopes a review of her medication will ease her symptoms.

Irene said: "I would normally get a yearly test for my diabetes and my bloods taken and the kidney function would have probably been picked up then.

"I think Covid is being blamed for an awful lot."

Irene, who lost her beloved husband Ted in 2018, is a champion for disabled people's rights after her late daughter Janet was born with learning difficulties.

After Janet sadly passed away in 2001 at the age of 40 her mum kept campaigning for patients and their carers, helping to establish the Carers' Council and becoming its chair.

Irene, who has another daughter Fiona and a son Gordon, has also been active in a series of local organisations, serving with Greenock West & Cardwell Bay Community Council, Phoenix Health Project, Enable Social Club and the Guides.

In recognition of her contribution to the community, she was awarded an MBE last year.

Both health board bosses and ambulance chiefs have said sorry for the length of time Mrs Pollard was kept waiting.

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde said: “We would like to apologise to this patient for her wait at the emergency department but we are pleased she received the care she required.

"During the pandemic, our staff are working as hard as possible to manage an increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital through our emergency departments, which has meant some people are waiting longer for treatment.

"This is not an issue specific to Inverclyde, but we are working locally to ensure IRH has the staffing in place across the service to help support frontline staff.

“IRH has, and continues to play, a crucial role in the delivery of health services to the people of Greater Glasgow and Clyde and we remain steadfast in our commitment to the hospital.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: "We are very sorry for the delay in reaching Mrs Pollard.

"While we are limited in what we can say due to patient confidentiality, we can confirm we received a non-emergency request for transfer from a GP during a period of extreme and sustained pressure on our services.

"We kept in touch with the patient to ensure there was no change in her condition and she was clinically triaged by one of our trained advisors.

"Along with the whole NHS, we are experiencing significant challenges on our services including lengthy turnaround times at hospitals which are operating at full, or near, capacity.

"This is regrettably leading to some delays but our staff are working incredibly hard to reach patients as quickly as possible.

"We hope Mrs Pollard is recovering well.”