Man left waiting for an ambulance for almost four hours after fall in Portsmouth street

A MAN was forced to wait four hours for an ambulance after he collapsed and hit his head on the kerb.

Thursday, 3rd March 2016, 6:00 am
Edward Keane - who was left waiting more almost four hours for an ambulance after falling over in Portsmouth Picture: Tom Cotterill

Edward Keane was left to lie on the freezing pavement for hours after his fall on Monday afternoon in Portsmouth.

The situation has been branded ‘outrageous’ and ‘unacceptable’ by city leaders.

The 62-year-old fell while walking in Ship Leopard Street in Portsea, at 3.50pm – just five miles from Cosham’s Queen Alexandra Hospital.

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Mr Keane, of Auckland Road East, Southsea, was left semi-conscious, with blood pouring from a wound on the right side of his forehead.

Neighbours who helped him say they called emergency services at least 10 times between them, begging for an ambulance to arrive.

However, each time they were told the city’s paramedics were stretched to the limit with a number of other life-threatening cases.

An ambulance eventually arrived at 7.35pm to take him to hospital.

Grandfather-of-15 Maurice Castleton, of Hawke Street, was one of those who helped.

He said: ‘It’s appalling how long it took. How can they leave a man bleeding on the freezing floor with a head injury for four hours? It’s disgusting.’

Mr Castleton said he called the emergency services five times from his phone.

At 6.20pm a rapid response vehicle arrived and provided first aid. However, it took a further hour for the ambulance to reach the scene from QA.

‘When the ambulance did come it took four people to get him on board.

‘It’s ridiculous to take nearly four hours for an ambulance to arrive,’ added Mr Castleton.

Teaching assistant Lisa Barcher, 38, was with Mr Keane the entire time.

‘It’s disgusting,’ she said.

‘The operators kept saying “there are life-threatening injuries across the city”.

‘But when the first-responders turned up they said they’d seen a backlog of 12 to 16 ambulances waiting to get into QA.’

Mr Keane was taken to QA and released hours later.

He said he was furious at the length of time it took for the ambulance to arrive.

‘I could have been lying dead and they would still have taken their time,’ he added.

The incident has since appalled city council boss Donna Jones who said: ‘This is absolutely unacceptable.

‘The situation at QA is only getting worse and it can’t be allowed to continue. I am concerned for people’s safety.’

A spokesman from the South Central Ambulance Service said there was a high level of demand across the city on Monday but said an ambulance should have been on scene in 30 minutes.

He explained the service had been in constant contact with people at the scene and that it sent out rapid responders as soon as it could.

He added: ‘We would like to apologise to the patient and their family for the delay in responding to this incident and regret that on this occasion the timely service that we aim to achieve was not of the standard we strive to deliver.’

He said Scas has just one ambulance per 23,000 people during the day and one per 35,000 at night.

‘As a result, Scas has to prioritise its resources to attend the most urgent calls – i.e. those patients suffering a life-threatening illness or injury – which unfortunately can lead at times to delays in getting to patients involved in non life-threatening incidents,’ he added.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, declined to comment about the incident.

Delays and growing demands are hitting QA hospital hard, says trust

HIGH demand at Queen Alexandra has led to ambulances being forced to queue outside the hospital’s emergency department.

Last month it was reported that a third of Hampshire’s on-duty fleet of 46 ambulances were left stuck outside the Cosham facility.

It comes after the hospital was placed on black alert once again – the most serious warning a hospital can be placed under.

The backlog caused some patients to wait for up to two hours.

The incident led to a boss from South Central Ambulance Service (Scas) admitting that he was worried about the future.

Just over a week ago, Mark Ainsworth, director of operations at Scas, told The News: ‘We are becoming increasingly concerned about this and the impact it has on our ability to respond to patients.’

Responding to this at the time, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs QA – insisted it was ‘working hard’ to avoid more delays.

A spokeswoman for the organisation previously said there had been ‘an extremely high demand’ on QA’s emergency department ‘with huge numbers of very sick, frail and elderly patients needing urgent care’.

‘To put this into context, we are currently receiving more than 15 per cent additional attendances in the emergency department compared to this time last year,’ she added.

‘The acuity of patients and increased elderly admissions does impact on our ability to accommodate, in a timely fashion, all ambulance arrivals to the emergency department.’

Between April and November last year the goal of a 15-minute handover at the A&E department was exceeded 6,055 times.

Ex-nurse left ‘appalled’ after wait

A retired nurse said she was appalled after being left waiting for an ambulance for three hours.

Isabel Telfer, from Surrey, was visiting Lee-on-the-Solent to get a new mobility chair when she fell.

Despite breaking both her legs, an ambulance did not turn up until three hours after the initial emergency call.

Ms Telfer, 60, said: ‘I just couldn’t believe it.

‘I am an ex-nurse and if I heard a patient was left waiting for that long in the cold and on the street, I would be appalled.

‘I am appalled and found it insulting.’

After falling in the high street in January, as previously reported in The News, people working nearby helped keep Ms Telfer warm.

She added: ‘The people who helped me are the real heroes. If it wasn’t for them, who knows what would have happened to me.

‘The whole incident was just unbelievable.’

South Central Ambulance Service has apologised. It said the call was categorised as ‘non-life threatening’ and it should have responded within 30 minutes.