Even when an entire healthcare system is under pressure, individual stories can still have an impact.
Edward Denmark, 62, has blood cancer.
Unsurprisingly, her 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 In the past week.
“In addition to being sick, I was complete and utter misery,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s like things have imploded.”
At Christmas Mr Denmark, who is from the Wirral, had a chest infection which was not getting better.
His cancer treatment makes him extremely vulnerable to infection and sepsis, so his GP referred him to the local hospital’s outpatient clinic the day before New Year’s Eve.
He went there with his wife, Trish. Both say it was “chaos.”
“It was as crowded as ever,” he said, “and I can’t sit in the chairs with all those people.”
‘I couldn’t even get a blanket’
Denmark said staff had had to put him “in a cupboard in the shop” before to keep him isolated from other patients, but “this time the cupboard in the shop was locked or something.”
Finally, Mr. Denmark and his wife were given a space to wait in an empty hallway, “but my wife had to find me a chair to sit down.”
“Staff would walk by and say they would come back but never did. I was hot and a bit delirious and didn’t really know what was going on, hard to get a glass of water, couldn’t even get a blanket.”
Ms Denmark said hospital paperwork showed there were concerns her husband was developing sepsis.
But it was nearly seven hours before he was put into a bed on a ward and received intravenous antibiotics.
She said: “I was afraid to leave it, if I’m honest, because I thought I could die in that room and no one would notice.”
After his initial treatment, Mr. Denmark expected to be transferred to a specialized oncology ward, but was told there were no beds available.
Instead, he said: “I had to be in a room, in a room where I felt like I wasn’t with staff who knew how to treat a cancer patient, or the risks of that.”
“There was no private bathroom and I was afraid to use the common one because of the risk of infection. So I was sweating with fever in a bed for two days and couldn’t wash or use the bathroom.”
The Wirral University Teaching Hospital Trust that treated Mr Denmark told Sky News that, as throughout the health service, it is seeing unprecedented demand for emergency care.
He added that staff are doing everything they can to see the sickest patients first.
But the experience has left Denmark’s family shaken.
“When I feel bad now, I think: what do I have to go through to get the antibiotics?” said Mr. Denmark.
“I shouldn’t say this, but I thought, ‘Is this [cancer] fighting is worth it, why am I fighting here?'”