Ambulance delays criticised by Norfolk patients

The region's ambulance service has come under fire again for its response times, this time from patients and their families.

Last month the EDP told how the ambulance service was dramatically underperforming in Norfolk and Suffolk in responding to 999 calls fast enough.

Now a footballer whose leg was broken during a match has told how he had to lie in the middle of the pitch for an hour and a quarter for an ambulance to arrive.

And the son of an elderly man who collapsed in his kitchen at home has also told how it took more than an hour for a paramedic to arrive, and more than two hours for an ambulance to take him to hospital.

The ambulance service is investigating the incidents.

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The ambulance service says neither call was logged as requiring its quickest, life-threatening category A response, but has promised it is looking carefully at delays.

Ryan Smith was playing in a friendly on Friday, July 22, for Thorpe Village FC when a tackle left him with two broken bones in his lower leg. Paramedics in a response car arrived at the sports ground on the outskirts of Norwich just after 8pm, within minutes of the 999 call, but he was left on the pitch in agony as an ambulance could not be sent until 9.15pm.

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The 27-year-old, from Rackham Road, Catton, said: 'The paramedics did a fantastic job. They didn't want to move me because of the extent of the damage, but it was over an hour before they could get an ambulance out as they had to divert several that were on their way.'

Denis Icke, 91, blacked out and collapsed on Tuesday, July 19 in the kitchen at the Nelson Court home he shares with his wife of 69 years in Watton. A 999 call was made at 6.34pm, and was designated as a low priority category C call. When no response had arrived by 7.17pm, the family called again and a paramedic arrived at 7.40pm. But it was not until 8.50pm that an ambulance arrived.

His son Stuart, 60, said: 'It's very difficult because when you have received very good attention and treatment when they have arrived you don't want to complain, and it's no reflection on the staff, but I think they should have come sooner.'

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, is currently in the process of overhauling its way of responding to different types of 999 call. The service receives a significant amount of inappropriate and time-wasting calls and the changes are aimed at filtering out the less serious cases so that tight emergency resources can be dispatched quickly.

Dr Pamela Chrispin, medical director, said: 'While we improve our response model to ensure the most life-threatening cases get help even faster, we are carefully monitoring and investigating any issues that might arise as a result. The cases highlighted are already being investigated as we take delays in back-up very seriously. We are tracking delays and have built monitoring of back-up times into our key performance indicators.'

A spokeswoman added: 'We would also be happy to investigate any incidents on behalf of patients individually through direct contact to our Patient Advice and Liaison Service.'

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service can be contacted on 0800 028 3382 or by email at

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