Lowestoft woman with Alzheimer’s left waiting for an ambulance for two and a half hours after fall
- Credit: Jacqueline Reynolds
An 83-year-old woman with Alzheimer's was forced to wait two and a half hours for an ambulance, after she fell from her nursing home bed.
Isobel Gibbons, who lives at Stradbroke Court in Lowestoft, fell out of bed at around 10.30pm on April 13 and when care home staff found her they immediately called the NHS 111 service which transferred them to a 999 operator.
But paramedics did not arrive until 12.55am - almost two and a half hours later.
And the deputy chief executive officer of East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) has since admitted to Mrs Gibbons' family that a shortage of staff and finances could be to blame.
Jacqueline Reynolds, Mrs Gibbons' 61-year-old daughter, was called by care home staff and with her daughter, rushed to be at her mother's side.
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Mrs Reynolds said: 'Mum was on the floor and she had a blanket on her. My daughter and I sat with her so the carers could go and do other things. She sustained a bang to her head which had a very large lump on it and friction burns on her leg.'
Mrs Reynolds said she sat with her mother as she was concerned taking carers away from other residents would impact their care.
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It has since emerged, due to a complaint submitted by Mrs Reynolds, that there were two resources in the Waveney area at the time. But because the incident was not classed as one of the most serious instances - known as Red 1 or Red 2 calls - they could not respond as they were within the last hour of their shift.
A letter from EEAST deputy chief executive officer Sandy Brown added that four ambulances had been sent out to Stradbroke Court at 11.06pm, 11.16pm, 11.33pm and 12.29am but 'on these occasions, the ambulances had to be diverted to higher priority emergency calls.'
By 1am Mrs Reynolds said, the ambulance arrived. She said she felt the waiting time was 'disgusting', but also said she was shocked her mother was not taken to hospital to be checked over.
Mrs Reynolds has since complained to EEAST, prompting the letter from Mr Brown where he admitted: 'The Trust recognises that we need more staff to be available to respond to our patients and there is continuing with our recruitment programme to increase our staffing establishment within the limits of our financial capacity.'
An EEAST spokesman said: 'We'd like to once again apologise to the patient and her family for any distress caused by the wait. The Trust aims to treat all patients appropriately and responsively regardless of the condition but on this occasion we did not meet our own expectations due the extremely high pressure placed upon the service at this time.'
He said Mrs Gibbons' fall was coded as serious, but not life-threatening.
He said: 'Unfortunately, due to high levels of demand that day, which saw more than 400 calls in Norfolk and 375 in Suffolk, we were not able to dispatch an ambulance immediately.
'Four separate ambulance crews were dispatched, but had to be diverted to more serious or life-threatening incidents. An ambulance crew attended at 12.55am and spent almost an hour assessing the patient, who did not require transport to hospital and was left in the care of staff at the home.'