Man, 75, lies on icy Sprowston pavement for more than two hours with broken hip waiting for ambulance

Councillor Robin Knowles wo waited for more than two hours for the ambulance.

Councillor Robin Knowles wo waited for more than two hours for the ambulance. - Credit: Archant © 2006

A 75-year-old man, who spent more than two hours lying in agony on an icy pavement before an ambulance arrived to help him, has today been offered an apology by health bosses.

Proctor Road, Sprowston.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Proctor Road, Sprowston.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Robin Knowles slipped on ice and broke his hip near his home in Proctor Road, Sprowston.

The Broadland district councillor, who represents Sprowston Central ward, was found collapsed by fellow councillor Tony Adams who had arranged to drive the pair to a council meeting.

Mr Adams said he rang 999 at about 8.40am on Saturday, and, despite further phone calls said an ambulance did not arrive until 11.30am.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust said crews had been dispatched earlier but were 're-diverted'. Bosses have apologised and said one did arrive at just before 11am, although Mr Adams insists it was later.

Mr Adams said he was concerned that Mr Knowles was at risk of hypothermia in freezing conditions, and neighbours did their best to keep him warm - bringing out blankets and hot water bottles.

They fetched plastic sheets to try to keep him dry as the hot water bottles melted some of the ice.

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Mr Knowles was due to have surgery at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital yesterday, and remains in hospital.

'I went to collect him and when I turned the corner he was on his hands and knees as he had slipped on the icy pavement,' said Mr Adams. 'I tried to get him up and I just couldn't. The pain was excruciating for him. He laid flat down on the pavement and I could see the situation was quite serious. We were really worried about hypothermia.'

He said when paramedics finally arrived he could not fault them, but that the lengthy delay, which he says was close to three hours, was unacceptable.

'I couldn't believe what was going on,' he said. 'If the ladies hadn't been there with their blankets I think the situation would have got worse quite quickly. If they don't regard that as a priority, what do they?'

Mr Knowles's wife Margaret, 69, had been to the supermarket when she returned to find the commotion in the street.

She said her two children were angry about what had happened, and she wanted to praise her neighbours who helped her husband.

She said that the ambulance arrived after a paramedic in a rapid response car called for one himself.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: 'We would like to apologise to the patient for the ambulance wait, and any distress this caused.

'We received the 999 call at 8.50am on Saturday and, based on the information provided from the caller; it was triaged as 'green 2' non-life-threatening incident.

'We aim to attend these patients within 30 minutes, if not sooner, but we were not able to do so given the demand we had at that time.

'Ambulance crews were dispatched earlier but re-diverted to other patients who were in serious or life-threatening conditions. However a crew was able to reach the patient by 10.57am.

'The patient had suffered a hip injury and after receiving treatment from crews was taken to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for further treatment. We would ask the patient to get in touch with us if they have any questions or concerns.'

• Do you have a health story? Call health correspondent Nicholas Carding on 01603 772439 or email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk