81-year-old grandmother forced to wait several hours for ambulance after fall

PUBLISHED: 18:08 20 December 2012 | UPDATED: 18:09 20 December 2012

An elderly woman had to wait more than five hours for an ambulance after breaking her shoulder.

An elderly woman had to wait more than five hours for an ambulance after breaking her shoulder.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

An active 81-year-old widow has been left “knocked for six” after she broke her shoulder in a fall and had to wait more than five hours for an ambulance.

Irene Playford, who lives in sheltered accommodation on Lee Warner Avenue, Fakenham, fell over in a communal room and broke her right shoulder at 5.30pm last night (Thursday).

Her daughter, Elizabeth Tuddenham, 55, of nearby Tatterford, was with her at the time and rang 999.

She called 999 at 5.45pm, 6.45pm and 7.45pm.

Her son, Lee Tuddenham, 29, of Unthank Road, Norwich, also rang 999 three times before the ambulance arrived with blue lights on at around 10.45pm.

Mrs Tuddenham said: “I’m just appalled by it. If it had been a life threatening situation would the paramedics have got there in time? I’m totally dumbfounded. This has totally shaken her up and knocked her for six.”

She was originally told her mother was not in a life threatening situation but was advised not to move her.

Mrs Tuddenham said her mother was in pain and was sat up on the floor surrounded by cushions.

She added it “was not on” to have an 81 year old sitting on the floor for nearly five and a half hours.

Mrs Playford was taken to the A&E department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, and assessed at 12.45am.

She was seen by 2.45am, had two x-rays and returned home to her bungalow this morning (Friday).

The widow is the entertainment officer for Fakenham Day Centre and will have to be in a sling for two months and needs physiotherapy.

Mrs Tuddenham added: “It is very frustrating for her (Mrs Playford) because she is a very active person.”

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: “While there was an unprecedented and unpredicted level of demand yesterday our service in this case was not up to the standards we strive for and was clearly unacceptable.

“We will be thoroughly investigating the incident to find out exactly what went wrong and can use those findings to inform the review we are carrying out into the service to make improvements. We will also be contacting the family directly to offer our apologies and reassurances that we will be working hard to try and prevent incidents like this from happening again.

“We have already taken direct action to cope with increasing demand such as the mobile treatment unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to better manage patient handovers.”

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