East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) bosses are under fire after an injured elderly woman waited an hour and 45 minutes for a 999 ambulance.
The 72-year-old Holbeach woman fell full-length while watering her greenhouse, badly cutting her hand.
She couldn’t get up off the ground and spent 45 minutes on Wednesday night shouting for help until neighbours heard faint cries.
Photographer David Eason and his daughter, Katie, ran round to help at about 9pm.
David said: “We could not lift her so I hit the 9s and they confirmed an ambulance was on its way.”
But 30 minutes later there was still no sign of an ambulance.
“We rang once more and shortly after a paramedic turned up,” said David. “He called for an ambulance and they said ‘we have none’. He did various checks and called 30 minutes later and they still had no ambulances.”
An ambulance turned up at 10.45pm, but at that stage the injured woman opted to travel with her son to accident and emergency (A&E) at Peterborough City Hospital.
David described the ambulance service response as a “grade A joke”.
Writing on Facebook that night he said: “Lucky it was not December/January/February because she would have died in the greenhouse. I hope the bean counters are proud of themselves and sleep well tonight.”
The pensioner, who asked not to be named, said: “I am full of arthritis, as well as lots of other medical problems, and I simply could not get up.”
She spent four hours in A&E at Peterborough – most of that waiting to be seen – and had seven stitches in her hand.
She sustained other cuts and bruises in the fall.
“I am covered in bruises,” she said. “I am bruised to pieces.”
She remains shaken by her ordeal and says an hour and 45 minutes was far too long to wait for an ambulance.
Three or four years ago, she waited four hours for an emergency ambulance and then spent 12 hours on a trolley in A&E.
EMAS chief executive Sue Noyes apologised for the delay and said the trust will contact the patient “to apologise directly for the distress caused”.
She said using information given, EMAS prioritised the call as non-life threatening but aimed to send an ambulance within 30 minutes.
Its emergency care practitioner, a paramedic with enhanced skills, was there within 46 minutes.
Ms Noyes said: “We receive a new 999 call on average every 45 seconds, approximately 2,000 calls a day. Unfortunately for this patient, more calls came in reporting life-threatening incidents and they had to take priority, particularly as we already had a skilled clinician with our patient providing care.
“Three ambulances were sent on separate occasions to travel to the property, but each was diverted to a higher priority call.”