A DISABLED woman who fell out of a mobility wheelchair on a busy high street and broke both her legs waited nearly three hours for an ambulance.
The incident happened in Lee-on-the-Solent on Monday outside All Seasons greengrocers.
Now traders and passing shoppers who stopped to help have criticised South Central Ambulance Service for leaving the woman, who was clearly in agony, lying on a cold pavement in winter for so long.
Owner of Solent Mobility Centre Debbie Watts said the lady was testing the powerchair when she hit a step at the greengrocers and fell out at 2.40pm.
An ambulance was called minutes later, but did not arrive until 5.11pm.
Ms Watts said: ‘She was in a lot of pain and had broken both her legs. She was a poorly lady anyway. I phoned the ambulance again at 4.15pm as she had been on the floor for nearly two hours and they said they were dealing with emergencies.’
Ms Watts told them the lady was disabled and in pain, and she says an ambulance even drove past the end of the road but did not stop.
Ms Watts said: ‘I could hear her screaming, she must’ve been in so much pain. That was a long time to lie on the floor.
‘It is terrible. I hope I never have need for an ambulance.’
Simon Kelly, who works at Solent Mobility Centre, laid down on the floor next to the woman to act as a human windshield.
He said: ‘We had blankets out but the wind was really whipping down the road so I lay down to give her some protection.
‘In this day and age it is atrocious to wait that long.’
Peter Patterson, from All Seasons, said the lady fell when leaving his shop.
He said: ‘The lady was clearly in considerable pain and an MS sufferer. With the support of a number of local people, the ambulance service was contacted for a second time, while attention was given to the lady to provide comfort and warmth.
‘The ambulance may have been very busy, however given the medical attention required, the service was very poor.’
A passing shopper, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It’s unacceptable that somebody has to lie out in the cold for three hours. It could easily have killed her.’
South Central Ambulance Service has apologised. It said the call was categorised as ‘non-life threatening’ and it should have responded within 30 minutes.
A spokesman said a combination of ambulances being delayed at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham and a high demand on its service had caused the delay.
A Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust spokeswoman said there was a ‘sustained high demand on the emergency department with exceptional numbers of very sick, frail and elderly patients needing urgent care.’
She added: ‘The acuity of patients and increased elderly admissions does impact on our ability to accommodate, in a timely fashion, all ambulance arrivals. We are working closely with our partners to address this issue, and our staff are working hard to process patients in a prompt and timely manner, with patient safety our top priority.’
The apology from South Central Ambulance Service
The full apology from South Central Ambulance Service:
‘At 2.43pm on January 25 2016, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust received a call to an incident on High Street, Lee-on-the-Solent.
‘Based on the information given by the caller, the incident was categorised as a Green 2 call – non-life threatening, requiring a response within 30 minutes.
‘At the time we were notified of the incident, we were experiencing a high level of demand for emergency responses in the area as well as having a significant number of vehicles unavailable to us due to handover delays at local emergency departments.
‘Multiple ambulances were delayed at hospitals for over an hour during the period of receiving the call relating to the incident at High Street, Lee-on-the-Solent, and the arrival of our ambulance to the scene.
‘Our clinical support desk remained in contact with the caller during this time to assess the patient’s condition and check on their welfare.
‘A rapid-response vehicle was dispatched as soon as it was available, arriving on scene at 4.32pm and once an ambulance was available it was also dispatched and arrived at scene at 5.11pm.
‘We would like to apologise to the patient and their family for the delay in responding to this incident.
‘This incident unfortunately occurred at a time of high local demand combined with a number of Scas ambulances being delayed during patient handovers.
‘We are sorry that on this occasion the timely service that we aim to achieve was not of the standard we set ourselves and strive to deliver for every patient.
‘We would invite the patient and their family to formally contact our patient experience team so that we can address any concerns or feedback that they have.’
Patients asked to use alternatives to A&E
PEOPLE are being urged to consider minor injuries units to ease the pressure on hospitals and ambulance service.
A spokeswoman for the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust said: ‘We’re urging people to choose well in their choice of healthcare.
‘If your injury is not serious, you can get help from a minor injuries unit.
‘This will allow the emergency department staff to concentrate on people with serious, life-threatening conditions and will save you a potentially long wait.’