AN ELDERLY woman was sent home twice from Ipswich Hospital and waited a total of 19 hours before she was given a referral to attend a private hospital for surgery on her finger that had been severed to the bone.
The woman, aged 72, sliced the tip of her finger off on a fold-up chair and waited for five hours in Ipswich Hospital's emergency department on Saturday afternoon only to be sent home.
She then waited from 6.30am to 7pm on Sunday before the hospital sent her and others home.
She was told to return for surgery at 7am Monday.
After waiting for two hours on Monday morning, she contacted private hospitals and was advised to obtain a referral.
Two days after presenting to Ipswich Hospital, she saw a specialist, was booked in for an operation the following day and waited at Saint Andrew's Private Hospital for one hour before she was operated on.
Her finger had to be removed at the knuckle.
Her niece Kerryn Graham said the doctor at Ipswich Hospital had apologised to patients turned away and said the hospital had been inundated with emergency cases during the weekend and only had one operating theatre open.
"There's something wrong at Ipswich Hospital if people are turned away after waiting that long," she said.
"Our concern is not only for my aunt but for what the staff is going through at Ipswich Hospital.
"They are just so understaffed only having one operating theatre open, the doctors just can't get through all their patients on the weekend."
West Moreton Hospital and Health Service Acting Chief Executive Sharon Kelly said last weekend was a particularly busy weekend.
"An especially high number of patients presented requiring urgent surgical treatment," Ms Kelly said.
"During weekends, the emergency department and operating theatre accommodates urgent surgery cases, with patients prioritised, or triaged, according to their clinical priority.
"Urgent cases are always prioritised first."
Ms Kelly said West Moreton had worked hard to improve its service.
"The vast majority of patients who present at Ipswich Hospital emergency department are treated within the four hour benchmark.
"It is disappointing when the hospital does not meet the expectations of individual patients.
"When this does occur, we encourage patients, their family and members of the community to provide us with their important feedback."