Cartoonist Bill Tidy waited nearly 24 hours in A&E due to bed shortage

Cartoonist Bill Tidy waited nearly 24 hours in A&E due to bed shortage

Legendary cartoonist Bill Tidy, 88, was forced to wait nearly 24 hours in A&E with a serious chest infection due to hospital bed shortage

  • The cartoonist was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary on Wednesday, July 10
  • On arrival he was forced to stay in the back of the ambulance for several hours
  • He then had to wait until the next afternoon before being given a hospital bed 
  • His family have described the wait as ‘unacceptable’ and he became ‘exhausted’

Legendary cartoonist Bill Tidy was forced to wait nearly 24 hours in A&E with a serious chest infection due to a shortage of hospital beds. 

The 88-year-old, who has illustrated more than 70 books, was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary by ambulance on Wednesday, July 20, but was left stuck in limbo.

When he arrived at the hospital he was forced to wait in the back of the ambulance for several hours, before eventually being admitted to A&E, where he then stayed 

Over the course of the day he became increasingly exhausted and distressed, his family say, before he was finally place in a bed on a ward the following afternoon.

His son Robert was with him and asked for a bed for his father multiple times, but was told no beds were available.

Bill Tidy, pictured here with his daughter Sylvia, waited nearly 24 hours for a hospital bed after going to hospital with a serious chest infection

Upon arriving at Leicester Royal Infirmary (pictured), Mr Tidy was forced to wait in the back of the ambulance for several hours

Mr Tidy, who receives regular care at his home in Swannington, near Coalville, Leicestershire, was given a stretcher the following morning, but it was so small his feet overhung the end.

H is daughter Sylvia Tidy-Harris said it was ‘completely unacceptable’, and questioned how an elderly and vulnerable person could be left waiting for so long.

Mr Tidy – a longstanding cartoonist for the Daily Mirror who illustrated more than 70 books – remained in the A&E department overnight, becoming more and more ‘anxious’, his family said.

Ms Tidy-Harris told LeicestershireLive: ‘By 10.40pm he still didn’t have a bed. He was exhausted and he could barely speak or move. 

‘He was very anxious and very stressed. In the end, it was 24 hours from being taken by ambulance to being admitted to a ward.

‘I just don’t understand how you can keep taking people in if you don’t have beds. The system is broken and likely beyond repair. Nobody should have to go through this.’

Mr Tidy, who was awarded an MBE for his services to journalism, has been in declining health in recent years following two major strokes, his family said. 

Ms Tidy-Harris added: ‘Seeing a loved one in that position is horrible.

‘The staff were wonderful for the most part and it’s not their fault but the hospital needs to get organised. It was just a series of errors. It could be your grandma or your parents – it could be anyone. It just shouldn’t be like this.’

It comes as the hospital faces a shortage of beds and staff. In some cases, the overwhelming number of patients and lack of beds has led to preventable deaths, the official health watchdog said in a report this week. 

Mr Tidy, pictured here at his home in 2020, has seen his health deteriorate in recent years after suffering two strokes

An inspection of the LRI’s emergency department in April this year found it was in crisis. 

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the country’s healthcare watchdog, rated the safety and responsiveness of the department as ‘requires improvement’.

Jon Melbourne, chief operating officer at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: ‘We are extremely sorry to any patient who has experienced a long wait after they’ve been admitted from our emergency department. 

‘We know this is not ideal but our teams are working hard to ensure all patients are supported and cared for whilst they wait.

‘Our clinicians are doing their best to prioritise patients so they can be cared for in the most appropriate place in our hospitals, however we do continue to be exceptionally busy.’

An action plan is in place to address the bed shortage that includes reducing the number of people being taken to hospital, by signposting them to other services, creating discharge teams to free up beds more quickly and creating GP-led urgent treatment centres with booked and walk-in appointments.

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