A pensioner has spoken of his distress at waiting four hours for an ambulance to help his disabled wife, despite living just a ten-minute walk from hospital.
Desmond Newling, 86, called for help after his wife Janette, 84, fell backwards and hit her head at their home near St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester and he couldn’t lift her off the floor.
Mrs Newling, who has multiple sclerosis and dementia, was left lying on the carpet in distress until medics arrived from Worthing at just past midnight.
An ambulance spokesman apologised for any distress caused and the service prioritised those patients assessed as being in a life-threatening condition.
Mr Newling said it was a ‘ghastly, ghastly experience.’
He added: ‘It’s not that I want special treatment.’
‘I did understand that they were giving priority to those with heart attacks and strokes, and they were going off what I told them, that’s the procedure, but then four hours is a long time.
‘I’m not throwing stones at the medics, they’re just following orders, it’s the system that needs to change.
‘This was terrible, really terrible and she was crying all the time and if I might add, wetting herself all the time and it was a ghastly, ghastly experience and I don’t want to go through that, myself or my wife.’
The couple, of Peacock Close, who have lived in Chichester for nearly 20 years, have children and grandchildren in Australia but no relatives able to assist at short notice.
Mr Newling, who was recently diagnosed with partial sight, said he initially called Chichester Careline at 8pm which referred the call to the ambulance service.
‘My poor wife, I’m never going to forget her face looking up at me asking why can’t you do something and I had to say I can’t and several times because of the dementia,’ he said.
‘The irony of this is if it hadn’t been so dark, it was pitch black, I would’ve walked to the hospital but I couldn’t.’
In a statement, the ambulance Trust said: ‘Demands placed upon our resources and delays at hospitals waiting to hand over patients means that there are times when we are taking longer than we would like to reach some patients.We are working hard to reach people as quickly as possible.’