AN ambulance service has come under fire for its ‘appalling treatment of the elderly’ after two injured OAPs were forced to wait hours for help.
Kathleen Bailey, 90, ended up calling a taxi and going to her GP surgery after falling over and cutting her head.
It’s an appalling way to treat the elderly and I’m sharing my story so people know what’s going onKathleen Bailey
In a separate incident, an 80-year-old woman was forced to wait almost two hours for an ambulance when she fell over outside Tesco in Crasswell Street, Portsmouth.
The delays have been blasted as ‘disgusting’, with a patient watchdog group saying the problems are a sign of the pressure the NHS is under.
Mrs Bailey took two buses from her home in Elizabeth Road, Wickham, to get to Portchester.
There she fell over in a newsagents and cut her head open.
Staff in Martin’s newsagents, in West Street called for an ambulance three times, but after waiting an hour Mrs Bailey asked for a taxi to be called instead.
She says she is now too scared to go out alone in case she falls again.
She said: ‘The ambulance service said they were too busy to send an ambulance to me, but I was lying on the floor for an hour. There was a customer there who stayed with me – and I thank her – as well as the staff who were fantastic.
‘But now I don’t want to go out alone in case I fall over again and no-one is there to help me.
‘It’s an appalling way to treat the elderly and I’m sharing my story so people know what’s going on.’
Mrs Bailey took a taxi to her practice, Wickham Surgery, in Mill Lane, where she had stitches for the cut to her head.
She added: ‘It frightens me because it could happen again, now I’m just going to take a taxi because I don’t want it to happen again.’
South Central Ambulance Service said it was called at 1.30pm on June 4.
A spokesman said: ‘The call was categorised as one requiring a 30-minute response.
‘At 2.18pm we were informed the patient was making their own way to their GP.
‘We apologise that on that occasion the service we aim to achieve was not of the standard we set ourselves and strive to deliver for every patient.’
Steven Taylor, manager of patient watchdog group Healthwatch Hampshire said: ‘We know the emergency services are under immense pressure, and we’re sorry to hear stories like these.
‘We need to find a way of relieving the pressure on the service. Not only are delays like this causing stress on a patient, it can potentially cause longer-term problems to their health.’
Samantha Moss, 28, was shopping in Tesco in Crasswell Street, Portsmouth, when she saw an elderly woman had fallen over outside.
Mrs Moss said: ‘She was on the floor and in quite a lot of pain.
‘Two people called for an ambulance, but 15 minutes later we were still waiting.
‘In total there were four people and five calls were made before an ambulance arrived – that’s disgusting and terrible.
‘She was clinging on to me and I could feel her squeezing my hand.’
Scas said it was called at 12.21pm on June 17.
A spokesman added: ‘We would like to say sorry to the patient, their family and to the people who were looking after the patient until our arrival.’
Scas confirmed it sent a rapid response vehicle at 1.36pm before an ambulance arrived at 2.11pm.
The spokesman added: ‘We take our response to our patients very seriously and we are in the process of reviewing the call and are therefore not able to comment further at this time.
‘We are already in contact with the patient’s family to discuss our response with them directly.’
Ambulance service says it is beating the national target for response times
SOUTH Central Ambulance Service said it is achieving better than the national target when it comes to responding to emergencies.
A spokesman said: ‘Scas continues to see a high demand on services.
‘This has ultimately put significant pressure on our ability to respond to patients as quickly as we would like and are continuing to work extremely hard to get to all of our patients as quickly as we can.
‘In Hampshire we are currently responding to 77 per cent of life-threatening incidents within eight minutes – two per cent above the 75 per cent national target.’