Cockney Rebel frontman Steve Harley waited for an ambulance for over three hours - but has nothing but praise for staff.

Steve Harley

Steve Harley - Credit: Archant

Cockney Rebel singer and musician Steve Harley is the latest to be affected by ambulance wait times, after waiting three hours and ten minutes after injuring his leg on Thursday.

Singer-songwriter Steve Harley

Singer-songwriter Steve Harley - Credit: Archant

Cockney Rebel singer and musician Steve Harley is the latest to be affected by ambulance wait times, after waiting three hours and ten minutes after injuring his leg on Thursday.

Despite the lengthy wait, the star, made famous for his 1975 hit Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me), had nothing but praise for the paramedics and the staff at West Suffolk Hospital, who treated him after a fall.

While visiting a friend in Belchamp Otten, Mr Harley, who lives locally slipped on a rug and heard a loud cracking sound.

An ambulance was called at 7.10pm but didn’t arrive until 10.20pm.

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Speaking exclusively to the EADT, Steve said: “I didn’t put a complaint in. They were wonderful. But it was a shock to me to see the NHS so underfunded and understaffed. “The last time I was in an ambulance was when I was three years old and it was the same leg that was injured. I had polio and I was dying. From the time that the doctor said to my mother, we need to get him to a hospital, I was in an ambulance and there within 15 minutes. The world has changed. Technologically, we are advanced but in human terms, you would think we were in medieval times again.”

“Waiting three hours for me is ok, I can take it. But my Dad is 91 years old and suffering with memory loss, I suppose you’d call it dementia. And if was waiting, in pain and alone, I would raise hell.”

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Eventually, ambulance staff, who Mr Harley called ‘the nicest people in the world’ arrived and took him to West Suffolk Hospital on a stretcher. He had an operation on his hip and remained there for three nights.

“I was quite nervous about staying at West Suffolk because although I’m no Paul McCartney or Tom Jones, sometimes people do recognise me and I was worried somebody might and take a snap of me with their phone. “Nobody wants to be pictured in their hospital gown. I mean, we got round it by pulling the curtain round the bed for three days. People must have thought the elephant man was behind the curtain! “My point is, I could have paid and been transferred to a private room but I couldn’t see the point. They were all so sweet. The surgery I had was 100 per cent successful, everyone I met was capable and caring. I lacked for nothing. Why would I move?”

Stephen Dunn, chief executive at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re so pleased to hear that Steve had a good experience with us, and is feeling better on his road to recovery. “Our orthopaedics team are an amazing group of staff, all of who help to make us an outstanding-rated trust. Steve’s surgery was a success and it was our pleasure to care for him during his time of need. We look forward to seeing him back on stage where he belongs very soon!” East of England Ambulance Service has come under fire recently after a House of Commons debate earlier this month heard suggestions up to 81 patients may have died due to ambulance delays in the region over a three week period.

A spokeswoman from the ambulance service said: “We would like to apologise to Mr Harley for any distress caused by the wait.

“Following triage, the call was coded as a category three call, which is urgent but not a life-threatening emergency. The target response time for the majority of these category three calls is two hours and on this occasion our response was unfortunately three hours.

“We prioritise patients with immediately life-threatening conditions first and on that day we experienced high demand with 470 emergency calls in Suffolk and two separate ambulance crews were dispatched to the patient, but had to be diverted to more serious calls.”

Steve Harley had to cancel four shows due to his fall, but all have now been rescheduled.

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