East of England Ambulance Service defends hour-plus wait for victim of North Walsham town-centre car crash

The ambulance service has defended its actions after an injured woman lay on a North Walsham town-centre pavement for more than an hour before being taken to hospital.

Emergency services were alerted at 1.56pm yesterday after a reversing car crashed into The Showcase Gallery, on Market Place, injuring a woman customer who was emerging from the shop.

But a paramedic did not arrive on the scene for half an hour, at 2.26pm, and an ambulance did not follow until 3.12pm.

The woman, who suffered cuts, bruises and a hand injury in the incident, was then taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Witnesses Jon Witte and Emma White, who work in an office above the Gallery, stayed with the woman until she was taken away.

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They were among people who called the emergency services. Bob White, who runs the Gallery with his wife Jan, said they had also rung for help.

'We called 999 and told them there was a lady bleeding,' said Mr White. 'It was half an hour before the paramedic got here and it was at least another quarter of an hour before the ambulance arrived.'

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But a spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) said they had responded appropriately, based on the information received.

'Unfortunately the only information we were given during the call was that a car had driven through a shop window with no mention of a pedestrian being involved,' she said.

'A series of comprehensive questions asked during the clinical assessment included whether anyone was trapped or thrown from the car and we were told not - only that the driver was conscious, breathing normally and bleeding from the arm.

'We can only base an assessment on the information available and this call was correctly coded according to national ambulance standards which exist in order to effectively prioritise patients, in a similar way to A&E.

'Crews arrived on scene within half an hour and, once there, their first priority was to assess, treat and stabilise the patients while calling for a basics doctor within eight minutes and requesting hospital transport once the need was established. This was requested at 2.53pm and arrived at 3.12pm.'

The woman driver involved is believed to have been uninjured.

This week's incident coincides with a growing protest movement within north Norfolk against proposed region-wide cuts to the ambulance service, which would include the loss of North Walsham's ambulance.

EEAST chief executive Hayden Newton has agreed to meet campaigners to discuss the public's concerns.

More than 2,500 signatures have been collected on a petition against the cuts, organised by the North Norfolk Labour Party.

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