Halesworth: Woman, 79, with broken collar bone waited 90 minutes for ambulance

A 79-YEAR-OLD with a broken collar bone waited 90 minutes for an ambulance to take her to hospital.

Wendy Simpson thinks her honesty about the pain she felt prolonged the response, after she fell and injured her collarbone and ribs in Halesworth.

Mrs Simpson, who tripped in the garden of a 92-year-old she looks after in Maltings Close, said: “I’m still in pain - but I’m alive. I was crossing over some lavender that was tied up and I caught my foot and went flying.”

Mrs Simpson, whose shouts for help were not heard, rang her friend Amorel Lambert, who came to her aid and phoned the ambulance service. Operators said they were not told of any injuries and gave the call lowest priority. After an hour with no sign of an ambulance, Mrs Lambert called again to report that Mrs Simpson was now in significant pain and unable to move from where she lay.

The service then upgraded the call and dispatched a vehicle, which was subsequently diverted. It led to a further 27 minute delay for Mrs Simpson, who said: “I was being absolutely honest by saying it was not an emergency but the pain got worse. I didn’t exaggerate and I think that’s why the ambulance was delayed.”

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Mrs Lambert, who stayed at her friend’s side until the ambulance arrived to take her to the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, said: “She lay on wet grass, growing cold and paler. It’s unacceptable.”

Both Mrs Simpson and Mrs Lambert claim they waited an hour and 45 minutes for help. The ambulance service meanwhile argue the wait was 87 minutes. A spokeswoman added: “Initial information given was that this was a non injury fall and therefore subject to an hour’s response time. Calls are prioritised in this way, similar to A&E departments, so those in life-threatening situations can be sure of getting the help they need first.

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“There was unfortunately a delay of 27 minutes to our response due to vehicles being diverted to a high volume of life-threatening emergencies during this time and a higher than average number of ambulances facing long hospital handover times.

“As soon as information was given, an hour after the original call time, that the patient had been injured we upgraded the call and dispatched an ambulance immediately without diverting it. If the patient would like to contact us we would be happy to talk to her directly.”

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