After 'utter misery' in 'chaotic' hospital, patient questions whether his cancer fight is worth it

Even when there's an entire healthcare system under pressure, individual stories can still shock.

Edward Denmark, 62, has blood cancer.

As you'd expect, his care has been stressful, challenging and, at times, extremely painful.

But he said "nothing has been worse" than an emergency visit to his local hospital last week.

"As well as being ill, it was complete and utter misery," he said. "I don't know what's happening but it's like things have imploded."

Over Christmas, Mr Denmark, who is from the Wirral, had a chest infection that wasn't getting better.

His cancer treatment makes him extremely vulnerable to infections and sepsis, so his GP referred him to his local hospital walk-in clinic the day before New Year's Eve.

He went there with his wife, Trish. They both say it was "chaos".

"It was very packed as it always is," he said, "and I can't sit on the chairs with all those people."

'I couldn't even get a blanket'

Mr Denmark said staff have previously had to put him "in a store cupboard" to keep him isolated from other patients but that "on this occasion the store cupboard was locked or something".

Eventually, Mr Denmark and his wife were given a space to wait in an empty corridor, "but my wife had to find me a chair to sit on".

"Staff were passing by and would say they would come back but never did. I was hot and a bit delirious and I didn't really know what was happening, it was difficult to get a glass of water - we couldn't even get a blanket."

Mrs Denmark said hospital paperwork showed there were concerns that her husband was developing sepsis.

But it took nearly seven hours before he was given a bed on a ward and received intravenous antibiotics.

She said: "I was afraid to leave him, if I'm honest, because I thought he might die in that room and no one would even notice."

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After his initial treatment, Mr Denmark hoped to be transferred to a specialist oncology ward, but was told there were no beds available.

Instead, he said, "I had to be in a room, on a ward where I felt I wasn't with staff who knew how to deal with a cancer patient, or the risks of that".

"There was no private bathroom and I was scared to use the communal one because of the infection risk. So I was sweating with a fever in a bed for two days and wasn't able to have a wash, or use a toilet."

The Wirral University Teaching Hospital Trust that treated Mr Denmark told Sky News that, as across the health service, it is witnessing unprecedented demand for emergency care.

It added that staff are doing all they can to see the sickest patients first.

But the experience has left the Denmark family shaken.

"When I feel unwell now, I think - what do I have to go through, to get the antibiotics in me?" Mr Denmark said.

"I shouldn't say this, but I thought, 'Is this [cancer] fight worth it, what am I even fighting for here?'"