On hottest day of the year hospital 'put me in a store room for over two hours'

Inside addenbrooke's

Andrew Smith uses a Zimmer frame to move around while waiting for spinal surgery. On Wednesday he was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests and says he spent more than two and a half hours in a storage room without water. - Credit: Andrew Smith

A 62-year-old Addenbrooke's patient says he was wheeled into a storage cupboard and left there for two and a half hours until a consultant found him.  

“It was a store cupboard that seemed to double up for many other things, too,” said Andrew Smith of Stretham near Ely.  

inside addenbrooke's

Andrew Smith uses a Zimmer frame to move around while waiting for spinal surgery. On Wednesday he was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests and says he spent more than two and a half hours in a storage room without water. He took the photos whilst he waited. - Credit: Andrew Smith

“The room seemed to be used as somewhere they make plaster castes – there was debris all over it from the last time they used it”. 

He said the room was filthy and “the edges all around the floor were dirty: there were also two or three empty capsules lying on the flood that looked to have been used for blood samples”. 

inside addenbrooke's

Andrew Smith uses a Zimmer frame to move around while waiting for spinal surgery. On Wednesday he was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests and says he spent more than two and a half hours in a storage room without water. - Credit: Andrew Smith

inside addenbrooke's

Andrew Smith uses a Zimmer frame to move around while waiting for spinal surgery. On Wednesday he was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests and says he spent more than two and a half hours in a storage room without water. - Credit: Andrew Smith

When the consultant he was due to see finally found him, Mr Smith says “I was dehydrated, exhausted and anxious”.  

He said: “There was a bed in my ‘cupboard’ but it was so uncomfortable, I didn’t want to stay here – the nurse who put me in there told me nothing else was available.”  

He produced a timeline of his afternoon and evening at Addenbrooke’s by checking the WhatsApp messages he kept sending to his wife.  


inside hospital

Andrew Smith uses a Zimmer frame to move around while waiting for spinal surgery. On Wednesday he was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests and says he spent more than two and a half hours in a storage room without water. - Credit: Andrew Smith


inside hospital

Andrew Smith uses a Zimmer frame to move around while waiting for spinal surgery. On Wednesday he was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests and says he spent more than two and a half hours in a storage room without water. - Credit: Andrew Smith

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“It was the hottest day of the year, yet here was I in a cupboard in a major hospital, with nothing to keep me cool and no water,” he said.  

“There wasn’t even a buzzer I could use. I was in my wheelchair having used a Zimmer frame to get into the hospital but there was nothing I could do.” 

Mr Smith said he was wheeled into the store room after first arriving at the hospital at lunchtime on June 16. 

He went to the Cambridge hospital following a 6am call to 101 because of the re-occurrence of symptoms related to a spinal injury.  

He is due for surgery – eventually – but continues to be under the care of his local GP and the hospital.

inside hospital

Andrew Smith uses a Zimmer frame to move around while waiting for spinal surgery. On Wednesday he was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests and says he spent more than two and a half hours in a storage room without water. - Credit: Andrew Smith


inside addenbrooke's

Andrew Smith uses a Zimmer frame to move around while waiting for spinal surgery. On Wednesday he was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests and says he spent more than two and a half hours in a storage room without water. - Credit: Andrew Smith


inside hospital

Andrew Smith uses a Zimmer frame to move around while waiting for spinal surgery. On Wednesday he was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests and says he spent more than two and a half hours in a storage room without water. - Credit: Andrew Smith

On June 16 the 101-team organised for his GP to call –which he did later – and arrangements were put in hand for Mr Smith to attend A&E the same day.  

“I have been accepted for surgery and have no problems with my treatment but that is the reason why I can’t walk at the moment,” he said. 

Friends organised his transport to hospital and he said because of using a Zimmer frame he had only a short wait to be checked in. 

He was later sent for an MRI scan, before being returned to the A&E waiting area. 

Just before 5pm he says a nurse came out to say he was being moved to an “assessment cubicle”. 

Mr Smith said he passed 40 or 50 cubicles before they moved to the storage room “and I was told to wait here”. 

"I must admit by this stage I was very dehydrated; I had been given the MRI and had arrived back in the assessment area hot and giving off bucket loads of sweats.” 

He said: “The room in which I was put had no water and no ways of reaching out for assistance.” 

Mr Smith said it was not until 7.20pm, two and a half hours later, a surgeon found him. 

“He was shocked and told me he had been looking for me,” he said. 

inside addenbrooke's

Andrew Smith uses a Zimmer frame to move around while waiting for spinal surgery. On Wednesday he was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests and says he spent more than two and a half hours in a storage room without water. - Credit: Andrew Smith

Mr Smith said the surgeon agreed to get him some water urgently “and he came back with two bottles of cold water and told me I was dehydrated.” 

He added; “He did a full examination in the cupboard – he couldn’t close the door because the Zimmer frame and the wheel chair were blocking it.” 

Mr Smith was eventually released and his wife picked him up.  

He said the cupboard which he had been his hospital ‘ward’ for part of the day had a label ‘compressed gas’ on the entrance to it. 

“There was a key code and lock so it wasn’t a cubicle,” he said.  

“There were no safety lines to ring, no buzzers, just one little frame on the bed, on my right nothing. 

“I was so pleased when the surgeon found me – he even went out and got paper sheets to lie over the bed before examining me.” 

Mr Smith said he had “never experienced anything like it in his life” and felt it was not up to the NHS standards he had normally experienced.  

So concerned was he by the dust and dirt, the following day he says he arranged for two Covid tests.  

He’s also registered a complaint with Addenbrooke’s but has yet to hear back from them. 

“They promised they would call but haven’t yet,” he said.  

 “I am not having a go at anyone, just explaining that the situation on the day was not good enough,” he said. 

A Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “Our emergency department always endeavours to treat patients in as timely a way as possible, and in clean and appropriate settings.  

 “We were disappointed to learn Mr Smith was dissatisfied and a member of our Patient, Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) has contacted him to discuss his complaint, which will be thoroughly investigated." 

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