Elderly St Albans woman's two-hour wait for ambulance
PUBLISHED: 18:45 19 July 2012
THE daughter of an 83-year-old St Albans woman left lying on her floor with a broken leg for two hours before an ambulance arrived has slammed the Government for slashing the service's funding.
Melissa Robinson said her mum, Patricia Warbey, who has replacement kneecaps in both legs, tripped on her carpet, falling hard on to her knees at about 9.30pm on Tuesday, July 17.
Realising she had seriously injured herself, Patricia dialled 999 on her mobile, got through to emergency services but her phone unfortunately cut out.
So she dragged herself across her floor to the landline, and phoned her daughter for help.
Melissa telephoned for an ambulance and drove from her Watford Road home to help her mum, arriving at about 10pm.
She said: “I knew when I saw her there was something seriously wrong because my mum doesn’t phone me every time she hurts herself. She was not moving her legs.”
Melissa’s husband walked down the road to wait for the ambulance but it still had not arrived by 10.30pm.
Concerned her mum might go into shock, Melissa dialled 999 two further times, at 11.10pm and 11.25pm.
By then Patricia’s left leg was very swollen around the kneecap and she was shaking uncontrollably.
On all three occasions she was told that as Patricia was conscious, breathing and not bleeding, it was not an emergency.
An ambulance eventually arrived at 11.45pm, two hours after the initial call.
Patricia was taken to Watford Hospital where she was told her leg was broken and she would need to undergo surgery to reset it.
An angry Melissa said: “I’m not blaming the ambulance service. The two women who turned up were very, very helpful and very kind.
“I told them that it was absolutely disgusting that if it had been my dog that had been run over, the RSPCA would have turned up straight away.
“I’m not blaming the people who answer the  phone calls; I blame the government. They are making so many cuts that it is putting people’s lives at risk. I’m so upset about it.”
Earlier this month public service union UNISON condemned central government plans to cut funding for the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST), which means it has to save £50 million over the next few years.
While a spokeswoman for EEAST “categorically denied” cuts to staff and service, she admitted there had been a high volume of calls at the time of Patricia’s accident.
She explained that during the initial call at 9.44pm the service was told, “the patient had fallen over with no serious injuries which meant it was given a one-hour response time but the caller was told to phone back if symptoms arose”.
Patients in immediately life-threatening situations such as strokes and cardiac arrests are given priority.
She went on: “There was a slight delay to the one-hour response due to a particularly high volume of high priority calls at the time but as soon as we received a call with new information indicating an emergency we dispatched an ambulance immediately which arrived nine minutes later.”