Woman, 79, left on cold floor in Cromer for hours waiting for ambulance staff to arrive


- Credit: Archant Norfolk

A care services manager today described how one of her 79-year old patients was left lying on a cold floor for hours before ambulance staff arrived to treat her.

Nancy Bush, 79, spent many hours lying on the floor of her home in Ashdown Court, Cromer, after a fall.

Cold and bruised, Ms Bush was unable to raise the alarm and was only discovered by her care worker from private company The Elite Care Company.

The company's boss, Tee Carver, said the staff-member dialled 999, but no ambulance appeared until four hours later.

A spokesman for East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) said the trust apologised for any distress caused.

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Ms Carver said they couldn't move Ms Bush in case she had broken any bones or was badly injured.

Ms Bush said she could not remember much of the incident, other that the experience had been very uncomfortable.

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Ms Carver said: 'She was made as comfortable as possible on the floor, but she was black in colour and freezing.

'She was obviously at risk of hypothermia.'

Ms Bush was not badly injured from the fall and remained at home after being assessed by paramedics.

But Ms Carver said it was unacceptable for a patient to wait so long for ambulance services.

The case highlights the growing problem the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has in responding to patients in a suitable time.

Yesterday this newspaper revealed EEAST's emergency response performance in March reached record-low levels, with only half of patients the most seriously ill or injured patients in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire being seen within eight minutes or less of the 999 call being made.

A manager at the trust, who did not want to be named, said there had been a failure to plan for increased demand and issued a plea for help from senior NHS management.

It comes as the trust this week are inspected by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission.

Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, organised a meeting between the trust's management and East Anglia MPs last month.

After that meeting she said she wanted performance to improve and that she had been given confidence in the way EEAST was approaching their problems.

Speaking after we showed her the regional response times for March, Dr Coffey said: 'We were told there would be a perfect storm in February and March because the trust would lose student paramedics who were due to return to their courses.

'So we were told we would see improvements in April, and at least the managers were candid with us.'

A spokesman for EEAST said: 'The patient was alert and had no apparent injury, so it was coded as a non-emergency call.

'Four different ambulance crews were dispatched at various points in the morning, but were diverted to life-threatening calls. 'Welfare calls were also made by our emergency operations centre staff to check on the condition of the patient.

Have you got an ambulance story? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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