THE emergency department at the Great Western Hospital resembled a war zone on Boxing Day night according to the wife of a patient who had to wait 9 hours before being seen by a doctor.

Sheila Mitchell was shocked to see people lying head to toe on trolleys waiting to be treated when 79-year-old husband James was taken in suffering for severe chest pains after waiting an hour for an ambulance to come from Chippenham.

He underwent tests and was eventually cleared to go home shortly before 5am the following day – 10 hours later.

“The doctors and the nurses, in extremely difficult circumstances, were brilliant. I’ve no complaint about them at all,” she said.

“From a medical point of view the staff were incredible. They were working in the most awful conditions.”

She described walking through the department to see the doctor and seeing patients head to toe on trolleys pushed to the side of the corridor.

“People were sleeping, relatives were trying to grab whatever space they could. It was a nightmare for everybody,” said the former medical secretary in a large city hospital.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. When we walked in it was like a war zone.”

Mrs Mitche, from West Swindon, saw one woman collapse while sitting in a waiting room and she was told another man, who had been brought in at the same time as her husband, suffered a heart attack while he was being seen by a doctor hours later.

A man who had arrived at 11am and was on oxygen, was seen after 12 hours when it was discovered his tank had run out.

She added ordinary people in the street could see the hospital was too small for the town and had questioned why, with the demolition of the town old hospital and the knowledge that Swindon was growing, it had been built with no more beds.

In response, a spokesman from Great Western Hospital said: “The emergency department is busy at this time of year and although our teams strive to see all patients as quickly as possible, those arriving with less serious injuries and illnesses may face a longer wait for treatment.

“We would encourage anyone with concerns about their experience at the Great Western Hospital to share their feedback with our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) team.”