Harpenden man left waiting for five hours in pain for ambulance

Robert Thomson

Robert Thomson - Credit: Archant

A man was left for five hours in worsening pain waiting for a booked ambulance after a hospital appointment.

Harpenden resident Robert Thomson has relied on a walking stick and wheelchair ever since he injured his spine slipping down icy steps in 2016.

In August this year the 47-year-old badly injured his foot and now must go to Luton and Dunstable University Hospital podiatry department for regular appointments.

However, ordering East of England Ambulance Service wheelchair transport has been plagued with difficulties - on one occasion Robert was an hour late for his appointment, on another the crews were not carrying the necessary wheelchair seat belt extension, and a third time he had to wait five hours.

He now takes medication along to appointments after one incident when the ambulance took so long that he missed taking a scheduled pain killer.

Robert said: “It makes me feel angry because I especially ordered an ambulance which is okay for a wheelchair, but there is a problem with communication between the people who send out the crews and what arrives.

“If I haven’t got a chair I have to get to the place with my walking stick and it kills if I hobble for too long. I can only do certain distances.

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“I would like the ambulance service to try and improve their system. We need communication between what the patient needs and what they end up getting.”

After making a complaint to the East of England Ambulance Service, Robert’s next appointment went without a hitch - but before long, problems had restarted.

He has a minimum of four more appointments to attend.

“Sitting in a chair waiting is very frustrating and I am very uncomfortable - it means I am missing the time I take my pain medication.

“I don’t mind waiting an hour or an hour and a half but when it becomes two or three hours it becomes a joke.

“I am dreading my other appointments but have booked the transport already. I can’t afford to go private - it’s not fair.”

This comes after news that a 96-year-old woman missed vital cardiology appointments because booked ambulances were nearly two hours late.

The East of England Ambulance Service did not respond to request for comment.