Ambulance took seven hours to reach 93-year-old woman after she fell in her Norfolk home
PUBLISHED: 09:59 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:28 18 September 2018
An ambulance trust has apologised after it took seven hours to reach a 93-year-old who had fallen and broken her hip.
Barbara Lyndon Skeggs fell at her home at Stradsett, near Downham Market, at around 12.30pm on Monday.
Her son-in-law James Bagge, formerly high sheriff of Norfolk, said: “She called us round and we called for an ambulance at 1pm-ish.
“Four calls later to 999, about eight O’clock in the evening, an ambulance turned up from Cambridgeshire and were really helpful and incredibly nice.
“She’s in hospital now, they’re operating on her this afternoon.
“Something went dreadfully wrong with the ambulance allocation thing yesterday. They took seven hours to get to a 93-year-old who’d had a fall and broken her hip.”
An ambulance spokesman said: “We’d like to apologise for the distress caused by the delay. We’d strongly encourage the patient or their family to contact us via our PALS service to investigate this incident.”
Mr Bagge, 65, said the ambulance service did call to say they hadn’t forgotten Mrs Lyndon Skeggs.
“She’s an amazingly stoic old girl,” he said. “She managed to get herself into a chair so she was sitting there, she wasn’t dying but she was in a lot of pain.
“It wasn’t an emergency but it turns out she’s broken her hip and they’re going to operate on her.
“I don’t see why someone in a car with some proper pain killing drug couldn’t have attended before.
“After six hours, I began to think come on - this is crazy.”
Mr Bagge raised more than £60,000 for Norfolk’s carers with a 1,500 mile walk to the county from Spain during his year’s tenure as high sheriff.
He said he was impressed with the set-up when he made an official visit to King’s Lynn Ambulance Station whilst he was sheriff.
The service’s delay in reaching Mrs Lyndon Skeggs comes two weeks after the resignation of Robert Morton as director of the East of Englance Ambulance Trust.
Robert Morton, chief executive at the East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) made the announcement in a post on a staff website yesterday evening.
He took over at EEAST in August 2015 after interim chief executive Dr Anthony Marsh stepped down.
But he has come under much criticism in recent months from unions and MPs as the trust struggled to cope with operational pressures.
North Norfolk MP and former Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “It would be very worrying if this was a unique case, because it’s obviously put an elderly person at risk for being left for so long but this is not isolated, it’s happening too often.
“I’ve been clear publicly that I’ve lost confidence in the leadership, they are the worst trust in the country on most response measures.
“We will enter this winter with no more staff than we had last year so I have no confidence in the leadership.”
In August, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the BBC revealed one patient waited more than 24 hours for an ambulance.
EEAST said at the time: “With a growing volume of 999 calls for conditions not deemed life-threatening or urgent, and a need to focus on our sickest patients first, less life threatening calls do wait during exceptionally busy periods - there were more 999 calls than there were ambulances, so our sickest patients had to be prioritised first.
“We continue to check in on these patients where appropriate, including suggesting alternative appropriate options such as 111.
“An independent service review confirmed there was a gap between demand and available capacity. New investment will mean more recruits and ambulances will, over time, support response improvements.”
Last month paramedics claimed morale is at an “all time low” after new rules put restrictions on holiday time for half the year.
One member of staff, who said they had worked on the frontline “for many years”, said: “Crews regularly see patients that have waited between six and 12 hours for an ambulance. Whilst this is obviously distressing for the patient, it also has an effect on the crew as they are the ones regularly bearing the brunt of dissatisfaction resulting from a broken service.”