THE daughter of a 77-year-old man has spoken out after it took more than seven hours before he was seen by a doctor in a crowded Accident and Emergency department.

The elderly patient, from the Peterlee area of County Durham, was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham by ambulance at 3pm on Monday, January 28.

But he was not treated by a doctor until 10pm - and it was 3.45am before he left the hospital.

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The man, who has asked not to be named, needed to see a doctor after his catheter was dislodged.

But when he got to the Durham City hospital the A&E department was so busy that he was placed on a trolley in the corridor, along with many others.

Because his ambulance crew was unable to hand over its patients it was also forced to wait.

Three-and-a-half hours after arriving - at 6.30pm - the pensioner was transferred to a cubicle.

His daughter, who lives in Spennymoor, arrived at the hospital at 8.30pm and was horrified at how crowded the A&E was and that her father had not been treated.

"There must have been eight ambulances queuing up outside waiting to hand over their patients", she said.

At 10pm, her father was finally seen by a doctor.

"The doctor was absolutely fantastic although he said he felt like he had been hit by a train," she added.

At around 12.30am the family was told that their relative could go home after they had cleaned him up.

But they had to wait until 3.45am for an ambulance.

A spokesman for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Urgent care and A&E attendances in Durham are up by 6.5 per cent on last year, and we have opened up to 60 additional beds this winter, to cope with the increase in patients.

"Staff are working really hard to keep patients safe and address their needs as quickly as possible.

"Last Monday was a particularly busy day in A&E in Durham, with over 200 attendances, and 92 patients who arrived by ambulance, although only 38 people required admission.

"This regrettably meant some patients waited longer than we would have liked.

"We would urge people not to use emergency ambulances or attend A&E other than in a genuine emergency, as this can put unnecessary pressure on services."