A woman of 92 waited six-and-a-half hours on the floor for an ambulance to take her to hospital after she fell and broke her leg.
Horrified bingo organisers at Saracen’s Head Village Hall made repeated calls to East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) before one, June Taylor, called in her grandson, Errol Dunham, an off-duty firefighter with co-responder medical training.
Retired nurse June (74) said the elderly woman, who comes from Moulton, caught her foot on a table leg and fell at 7.10pm.
But an ambulance didn’t reach her until 1.40am and it came from Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, nearly 80 miles away.
June, who lives in Holbeach, realised the pensioner’s leg was broken and says she was made comfortable but could not be moved for fear of making any injuries worse.
“We were grateful, really, she didn’t knock her head or anything like that,” said June. “You can’t blame the ambulance service but the system isn’t right if we haven’t got enough ambulances that can come out to this sort of thing. Ambulances are tied up because they have to queue up at casualty and they have to wait there until the hospital takes in the patient. The whole system is wrong.”
June understands the ambulance service must prioritise calls, and go to life or death medical emergencies like heart attacks first, but says that doesn’t make it right for a patient in their 90s to wait so long for treatment to a painful injury.
The pensioner broke the same leg in an accident five years ago and is now being treated in Pilgrim Hospital at Boston.
Neighbours are looking after the woman’s 94-year-old husband. A neighbour and friend, who has been taking the lady to bingo for 20 years, told us: “I was horrified that she was laid on that floor for so long.”
She said the last time her friend broke her leg it took five months to get better and she was looked after at Pilgrim and Tanglewood.
Among those helping the lady at the scene were retired nurse Lesley Wallace.
Errol and off-duty colleague Cameron Sleight arrived at about 8.15pm and stayed with the injured woman until the ambulance got there.
East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has apologised to the 92-year-old for not reaching her sooner.
Ben Holdaway, EMAS deputy director of operations, said: “Demand across the NHS is continuing to rise. We are experiencing an increase in the number of 999 calls to patients who are in a life-threatening emergency that we prioritise as we need to reach them within eight minutes.
“Hospitals are seeing similar demands which can have a knock on effect for our service when our ambulance crews have to wait for long periods of time at hospital before their staff can accept the patient. This impacts our ability to get back out on the road to new 999 calls from patients waiting in the community.”
He said the EMAS priority is to “ensure we provide a safe quality service to the people of the East Midlands” and an independent review is going on to look at resources, staff and vehicles, that are needed to meet the increasing demand on the service.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb says EMAS only got to 66 per cent of the most serious calls within eight minutes this winter when the Government benchmark is 75 per cent.
• Have you experienced a long delay in an ambulance reaching you? Email firstname.lastname@example.org