Wickham Market patient quoted six-and-a-half hour wait for ambulance fears winter pressures are here to stay

Julian Evans. Picture: DAVID GARRAD

Julian Evans. Picture: DAVID GARRAD

A Suffolk man has questioned the long-term stability of the ambulance service after receiving delayed care for suspected kidney stones.

Julian Evans, from Wickham Market, developed severe abdominal pain on Monday night that left him “rolling on the floor in major discomfort”.

His wife, Becky, phoned 111 just after 8.45pm and was told an ambulance had been requested for Mr Evans.

When it got to around 10.15pm, Mrs Evans contacted 999 to get an update, but was reportedly told there was a six-and-a-half hour wait.

After an telephone assessment with a doctor around midnight, it was decided Mr Evans would stay at home unless his condition deteriorated.

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Mr Evans’s pain continued through the night so phoned 111 again at 5am on Tuesday and an ambulance was with him in half an hour.

In the back of the ambulance Mr Evans was given morphine for suspected kidney stones and taken to Ipswich Hospital.

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The 52-year-old praised the NHS staff as “brilliant”, but said there clearly wasn’t enough of them.

“I’m concerned that the recent emphasis has been on a backlog over the holiday period where in reality it’s happening now as well,” he said. “It’s after the Christmas period but it’s wrong right now, it’s wrong today and it needs fixing.”

He added: “The other thing is if they gave me a six-and-a-half hour delay with something that isn’t life-threatening, it made me wonder what other emergencies occurred [on Monday night] and did we have youngsters with broken arms or people with strokes having to wait similar periods of time?”

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) is currently in the spotlight due to allegations of patient deaths and harm caused by delays over Christmas and New Year.

EEAST declined the chance to respond to Mr Evans’s concerns about long-term pressures.

A spokesman said: “We were called at 8.46pm on February 5 to a report of a man with abdominal pain in Wickham Market. The call was triaged and coded as a non-emergency call. A clinician in one of our control rooms called at 10.21pm and gave advice over the phone and made an out of hours GP referral for the patient.

“At 5.09am on February 6, we received another call from NHS 111 that the patient’s abdominal pain had worsened and an ambulance attended at 5.39am and took the patient to Ipswich Hospital for further care.”

EEAST received 364 calls in Suffolk on Monday and 370 on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Care UK, which runs Suffolk’s 111 service, said: “We have reviewed this patient’s contact with our 111 and GP out of hours services and are confident that during the initial call he was appropriately referred to the ambulance service.

“Later that evening the patient received further advice from our GP out of hours service, after he was referred to it by another provider. We advised the patient to monitor his condition and to seek treatment if it worsened.

“He contacted us again the next morning and was immediately referred to the ambulance service for a second time.”

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