BED shortages made a hospital ward look like something from a third world country, a patient’s sister said.

Beverley Neal, 63, said there was a queue of 18 poorly patients sat in waiting room chairs when she visited her brother Michael Rogers on Linnet Ward.

Her 69-year-old brother, who has bladder cancer, was waiting in a chair for an estimated 14 hours before a bed could be found for him. Linnet Ward is an acute medical unit where patients needing urgent treatment can be quickly assessed by doctors. Patients may stay on the ward for up to 48 hours.

The Haydon Wick woman said: “If you went into Linnet Ward you wouldn’t believe it. It was like something in the third world. There were 18 people waiting, with no beds.”

Michael was admitted to hospital at around 1pm on the Wednesday afternoon. He had been undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for his cancer and took a sudden turn for the worse.

His sister visited him in Linnet Ward, leaving at around 7.30pm. By that time Michael was still sat in a corridor.

Beverley called the ward for updates through the night: “The last call I made was half-past one in the morning and he was still sat in the chair. The sister said, ‘What can I do? We have no beds.’”

She offered to take her brother home, but nurses were keen to keep him in overnight as doctors feared he could be suffering an infection: “I said to my brother, what do you want me to do because you sound really ill. He said, ‘I can’t come home because if I leave I’ll have to go through the same process tomorrow.’”

The former publican said she had read about the squeeze on NHS beds in the news: “I have never seen it first hand before. I have to say I was shocked.”

It has convinced her that something in the NHS needs to change. “It’s dire,” she said. “It’s just overcrowded. The hospital’s too small. I think people will have to contribute more to the national health system. Some money has to come from somewhere to make a bigger hospital.”

GWH currently has over 500 beds across the Marlborough Road site. But many have suggested it should expand, including the hospital’s last chief nurse.

A spokeswoman for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We’re very sorry that Mr Rogers had to wait as long as he did for a bed.

“Unfortunately, this is a challenge the NHS as a whole is working to address at the moment and although we’re no exception our frontline staff tackle this issue every day and their decisions are always driven by what is best for patients.”

The latest staffing figures for Linnet and sister ward Kingfisher suggest that nurse levels are adequate. In February, the latest month for which figures are available, all the shifts due to be staffed by registered nurses were covered.

Other wards fared much worse by comparison. Aldbourne, an orthopaedics ward, had a nursing fill rate of just 75 per cent. Only three quarters of day shifts due to have been covered by registered nurses were filled.