An 86-year-old woman waited nearly three hours for an ambulance - instead of the 20 minutes it should have taken - after breaking her thigh bone in the street.

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Daphne Shaw was left in excruciating pain lying on her back in a gutter after falling while getting in a car outside her home.

She was being picked up by two friends who immediately called for an ambulance but they had to ring back several times before they were told that it was on its way.

By the time the ambulance arrived Mrs Shaw had been lying in a gutter by the kerbside in Gargle Hill, Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich, for about two hours, 45 minutes.

She had not been able to move her position because she was in too much pain.

Fortunately, residents living in the street brought her blankets and hot water bottles to keep her warm while she waited.

Her nephew Mick Barnes, from Gordon Avenue, Thorpe St Andrew, said: “I think it’s a disgrace. I cannot believe it happened and that she was lying in deplorable conditions amongst all the rotten vegetables and rubbish in a gutter, waiting for an ambulance for nearly three hours.”

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust said that it had been graded a Green 1 call which is classed as serious but not life-threatening and requires a 20-minute response.

An EEAST spokesman said: “We do our very best to get to patients within the appropriate timeframe, but sometimes this is a challenge if we’re very busy elsewhere with more serious cases such as cardiac arrests, strokes and unconsciousness.

“The Trust is however currently planning resources better to fit in with where and when demand lies in an effort to improve response times.”

The incident happened at about midday on Monday and Mrs Shaw underwent an operation the following day. She is expected to remain at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for about 10 days before being transferred to rehab.

Mrs Shaw was being picked up in Gargle Hill by James Tate, who had already collected his wife Nancy, who is a lifelong friend of Mrs Shaw’s, from the Woodland care home in Hellesdon en route.

They were taking her to the Oaklands Hotel in Thorpe for lunch.

Mr Tate, 90, from Cator Road, Drayton, said: “She fell between the kerb and the car and her head was lying in the gutter. She had broken her femur, or thigh bone.

“I rang the ambulance service, 999, just after midday. But at about 12.30pm there was no sign of an ambulance so I rang the same number again, and then at 1pm.

“Each time I had to go through the same palaver and rigmarole and answer the same questions.

“I was told that the ambulance would get to us as soon as possible. As time went by, people in Gargle Hill were bringing blankets and hot water bottles out to keep Daphne warm while she waited.

“The ambulance people told me on the phone not to give her anything to drink. All this time she was lying prostate along the gutter on her back. It was too painful for her to move, and she cried out in pain every time she tried.

“When I rang the ambulance service at 2.30pm, the operator said he was aware of the calls I’d made, and said the ambulance was in Yarmouth Road, and would be there soon. It arrived at about 2.45pm.”

Mr Tate said that during the ordeal Mrs Shaw was often in too much pain to talk.

He added: “I thought it was scandalous it took so long for the ambulance to arrive. Had it rained, where Daphne was lying in the gutter, she would have been soaked.

“But when the paramedics arrived, they were very good indeed. On behalf of Daphne I would like to thank people in Gargle Hill for the blankets and hot water bottles they brought out to keep her warm. It was like the old wartime spirit.”

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