A MONMOUTHSHIRE resident has slammed Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan and politicians after her visit to A&E at the Grange Hospital, following a year of “zero change”. 

Eve Criddle, 85, from Abergavenny expressed her utter dismay after her “abysmal” experience at the Grange A&E, which she likened to a “World War II refugee camp.”

Last year, Eve went to A&E after a nasty fall that led to two blackened eyes and a head injury.

Despite Nevill Hall MIU, the Royal Gwent and Prince Charles Hospital being “a stone’s throw away”, Eve was sent to the Grange. 

From the get go, she described the experience as “extremely stressful.” According to Eve, the carpark was “totally inadequate”, further delaying her arrival. 

Once Eve had entered A&E, the nighmare did not end as she proceeded to wait for six hours. Within this time, she witnessed the “struggle” of patients and staff members alike.

You could have seen from a drawing board, how awful the parking facilities are,” Eve said. “For every one car parking space, there should have been three, especially when you take into account the size of the hospital.”

Speaking about the waiting room, Eve said: “There had to be 80 people there, waiting to be seen in a room that was half the size that it should have been to accommodate those waiting,” Eve said. “People were sat there in horrendous states. Some looked like they were dying. It was horrific.

“I watched more and more patients enter, many of whom left because there was nowhere to sit and eventually no room at all.

“I have never seen anything like it - no other hospital. It was like a World War II refugee camp.”

It was midnight when she was informed that she would have to wait a further three hours before she could be seen; something that she was both unable and unwilling to do, especially at her age. 

She returned the following day under the instruction of her GP, only to wait another six hours. Once again, it was not until near midnight when Eve was able to be seen.

Eve went on to say that the turmoil in the hospital was no reflection of the staff.

“The people who work at the Grange Hospital are nothing less than saints,” she said. “Each and every one of them should be on the Honours List instead of entertainers and sportsmen who are doing what they enjoy doing. 

“My son and I witnessed demands on the staff that was outrageous and totally unacceptable - the demands made on them were tantamount to climbing Everest on high heels. They are over-worked and tired; they are not robots, when they’re tired they make mistakes. The result of that are claims against the NHS.

“And none of them will say or act on this. Any other place of employment, the staff would justifiably bow out on it and walk away, but it is their dedication that prevents them from doing so. They have mortgages, bills, families to think about, so they sit there and take it. 

“I do not know how the Health Minister and those who are responsible can sleep at night, knowing the stress and pain the staff and patients are going through. 

“As far as I am concerned, both the staff and patients are victims.”

After this experience, over the course of a year, Eve has written countless letters to politicians, demanding a public inquiry. However, although her letters have not gone unanswered, the request of an inquiry has been said to be out of their jurisdiction. 

Yet this has far from deterred Eve. 

“I am not going away - I will keep shouting about this,” she said. “I have waited until this point in the hope that some change will be made but nothing has happened. No one has anything good to say about the Grange, there are only bad stories about it. 

“All I want is for a Senior Judge to do an independent inquiry into the Grange. Politicians are not above the law.  They do not want a judge getting involved but not allowing it is an abuse of power. We deserve to know the names responsible for this crisis.

“They are subjects to the land and cannot do what they like. Does Health Minister, Ms Morgan and the other politicians responsible for the Grange have private health insurance? They do not understand what residents are going through. We deserve to know the names responsible for this crisis.”

In response to Eve’s comments, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Health Boards are responsible for the quality and performance of their emergency departments but we recognise the level of service described is not acceptable.

“The Health Minister has introduced the Six Goals programme to drive whole system improvement and support both emergency department and ambulance performance. Across Wales we have seen reduced waiting times within our communities and emergency departments in recent months.

“We have provided nearly £3m to Aneurin Bevan University Health Board this year to improve performance at their emergency departments.”

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has a six goals programme plan in place and this includes a focus on a ‘safer patient flow’ model since April 2023 to help reduce pressure in its emergency department, improve performance and reduce ambulance patient handover delays.

To enhance patient experience last winter, an additional £2.7m was allocated across health boards to improve their emergency department environments, including options to upgrade or improve seating arrangements, access to information, hydration stations and personal hygiene facilities – the Grange University Hospital received £260,000 of this funding.