Former DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy, who is currently touring Europe with THE NEAL MORSE BAND, has apologized for blasting the staff at the Whittington Hospital in London, England for allegedly refusing to see him quickly enough so that he could make it in time to the Islington Assembly Hall, where the group was scheduled to perform Saturday night (March 7).
Said Portnoy in a post on his Facebook page: "I'd just like to apologize to anybody I offended with [Saturday's] post… It was not a personal attack or rage against England's health care system in general (of which I know nothing about)… [Saturday] I was the sickest I've EVER been in my life.
"The paramedics came to see me at the gig and then decided to take me to the emergency room, only for the ambulance to run out of gas and I was then driven to the hospital by a very kind fan who offered to help. Neal and I calmly waited in the A&E [Accident & Emergency] without any indication from any of the staff of when I would be seen. I did NOT expect any special treatment or wanted to be put ahead of anybody else in need (as I have been so wrongly accused)… We only wanted some (ANY!) answers as the clock was ticking until showtime...
"At 7:45, I had to make the decision to continue to wait and cancel the show… or leave without being seen in order to make the 8 p.m. show. I desperately did NOT want to disappoint the fans and made the decision to leave in order to make the show. I played the show in the worst physical condition of my life.
"I'm sure you can imagine how frustrating this experience was and I stupidly posted about it on my social media.
"I am shocked and appalled at some of the rude and downright nasty comments that have been posted in the wake of this… really, 10 [times] worse than my post. It's sad to see such hatred… but whatever, I can suck it up and take it. I surely never meant for such attention and controversy.
"Thank you to everybody that cared and sent me well wishes and prayers… The positive vibes will help me on the road to recovery.
"In any case, I really need to crawl back in my bunk, get off the Internet to try and recuperate... but I wanted to address this issue and explain what happened and apologize to whomever I offended."
THE NEAL MORSE BAND leader Neal Morse offered his own version of what happened the night of the London concert. He wrote: "Regarding [Saturday] night in London, the paramedics came around 6:00 and THEY said Mike should go to the hospital, loaded him in the ambulance (I got in with him). They ran vitals. Then, after some time, the driver said they were too low on fuel and suggested alternate transport. Shocked and in a bit of a panic, I ran into the venue and asked if anyone had a car. We got a ride from a very kind fan and it took us 30 minutes because of traffic that the ambulance probably could've avoided. It was now about 7:15 and we were supposed to go on around 8:00. The women at emergency told us to sit and wait though we gave them the ambulance papers and told them the situation. No one would tell us anything about how long it might take or any info at all. I did most of the talking as Mike was pretty out of it. No one made a scene at all. We were all very polite to one another. So we waited... Not sure what to do, at around 7:45, I went back where it said no admittance and found a nurse who kindly looked him up in the computer to see where he was in the queue and said he wouldn't be seen for quite awhile and there was no way to change that. So, Mike opted to go back and do the gig untreated. That's what happened as best I can tell it.
"My only comment is that Mike was never rude to anyone at all during the whole process. This is being blown way out of proportion. There was no rage at all. The fact that he did the gig as well as he did is a testimony to what a workhorse kind of guy he is! I had the same thing and went to the doctor (I've never been to the doctor on tour in my life!) in Zurich 2 days before and I can tell you it's nasty.
"Anyway, I just wanted everyone to know how it all went down."
According to the National Health Service (NHS) web site, the Whittington Hospital is part of Whittington Health, an NHS organization that provides hospital and community services to 500,000 people living in Islington and Haringey as well as other London boroughs, including Barnet, Enfield and Camden.
The National Health Service is a completely public "socialized medicine" system.
The Business Insider reported in January 2015 that "NHS just released its most recent stats on accident and emergency room waiting times. The headline number is that 84% of patients are seen within four hours. In the UK, this is regarded as a huge failure — the standard the NHS is supposed to meet is 95% of patients in four hours."
Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER 30 years ago, abruptly quit the band in September 2010 while on tour with AVENGED SEVENFOLD. He has since been replaced by Mike Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI). Portnoy later revealed that he tried to rejoin DREAM THEATER, only to be rebuffed.