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Halesworth 79-year-old waits nearly 90 minutes for ambulance

PUBLISHED: 12:14 17 August 2012 | UPDATED: 12:30 17 August 2012

Wendy Simpson of Halesworth, who waited 90 minutes  for an ambulance after breaking her collar bone.

Wendy Simpson of Halesworth, who waited 90 minutes for an ambulance after breaking her collar bone.

Archant

A 79-year-old with a broken collarbone was left waiting nearly 90 minutes for an ambulance to take her to hospital.

Wendy Simpson was injured after tripping in the garden of a 92-year-old she looks after in Maltings Close, Halesworth, but thinks her honesty about the pain prolonged the service’s response last Thursday.

The East of England Ambulance Trust has said there was a delay because it was dealing with a number of incidents elsewhere, although argued that the initial information it received suggested the injuries were not serious.

Mrs Simpson’s initial shouts for help were not heard, so she rang her friend Amorel Lambert, who came to her aid and phoned for an ambulance.

Operators said they were not told of any injuries and gave the call lowest priority.

After an hour with no sign of an ambulance, Mrs Lambert called again to report that Mrs Simpson was now in significant pain and unable to move from where she lay.

The service then upgraded the call and dispatched a vehicle, which was then subsequently diverted.

It led to a further 27-minute delay for Mrs Simpson, who said: “I was being absolutely honest by saying it was not an emergency but the pain got worse.

“I didn’t exaggerate and I think that’s why the ambulance was delayed.”

Mrs Lambert, who stayed at her friend’s side until the ambulance arrived to take her to the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, said: “She lay on wet grass, growing cold and paler. It’s unacceptable.”

Both Mrs Simpson and Mrs Lambert claim they waited an hour and 45 minutes for help. The ambulance service meanwhile argues the wait was 87 minutes.

A spokeswoman for the trust: “Initial information given was that this was a non-injury fall and therefore subject to an hour’s response time.

“Calls are prioritised in this way, similar to A&E departments, so those in life-threatening situations can be sure of getting the help they need first.

“There was unfortunately a delay of 27 minutes to our response due to vehicles being diverted to a high volume of life-threatening emergencies during this time and a higher than average number of ambulances facing long hospital handover times.”

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