A MAN from Chepstow who believed he had just suffered a stroke was told by a nurse he could drive himself to hospital because there was no ambulance available.

Robert Murdin’s wife called 999 on December 3 after her husband started experiencing numbness down one side of his body.

After the initial call, Mr Murdin, 69, was called back by a nurse who told him he could drive accompanied to the A&E department at Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital, despite the fact he had lost the sensation in his right arm and leg.

Mr Murdin was eventually driven to the Royal Gwent by his wife’s nephew. There, after a ten-hour wait, Mr Murdin was told he had indeed suffered a stroke.

He described his ordeal as “shocking.” Mr Murdin and his wife, Nicola, said they wanted to make others aware of his experience, and hoped nobody else would have to go through the same distress.

“I was watching a Christmas film, then he came in and said his arm and leg felt heavy, and he had this burning sensation in his head and face,” Mrs Murdin, 51, said.

“I knew it was a stroke because I’d seen it before with other family members.”

Mr Murdin was not slurring and had not lost his speech, but his wife noticed he wasn’t able to lift one side of his mouth.

When it was suggested he drive to hospital, Mrs Murdin said the couple were stunned.

“It was mad – why do we pay for the NHS?” she said.

The couple then panicked because their son was away in Gloucester and their daughter was heavily pregnant, meaning neither was available to take their father to hospital.

Eventually, Mr Murdin was taken by his wife’s nephew. They arrived at the Royal Gwent at 5.30pm, but it wasn’t until around 3.30am the following morning that Mr Murdin’s stroke was confirmed, and he then had to wait until lunchtime on December 4 to be allocated a hospital bed.

Mr Murdin was later transferred to St Woolos Hospital, where he had his first shower in several days, because the showers at the Royal Gwent had been out of order.

Mr Murdin is now recovering at home. He and his wife have submitted a complaint to the health board via their local county councillor, Armand Watts.

Cllr Watts said he was "particularly disturbed" by the nature of Mr Murdin's experience.

"If it's happening to people in my ward, it's surely happening elsewhere," Cllr Watts said.

"Particularly with stroke victims, minutes can make a difference."

Cllr Watts added that he knew from personal experience the stroke ward at the Royal Gwent was "excellent."

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: "We are sorry to hear that Mr Murdin has concerns about the care he has received whilst at the Royal Gwent Hospital.

"We would ask that he makes contact with us directly so we can discuss his treatment and the concerns he has regarding our service.”

Additionally, Bob Tooby, acting interim director of operations for the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Services Trust, said: “We are very sorry that Mr and Mrs Murdin feel they had a poor experience and we would very much encourage them to make contact directly with us so that we can understand more about what happened in their case.

"We welcome all feedback and understand how important it is to learn from the experience of our patients.”