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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Nearly an hour’s wait for ambulance – at hospital

A 77-YEAR-OLD woman who fell outside the West Cumberland Hospital waited almost an hour for an ambulance to take her to A&E – less than 200 metres away.

BRUISED AND UPSET: Margaret Crawford back home after her ordeal at the hospital.

Margaret Crawford injured her head after slipping off a kerb onto the pavement following a hospital outpatients’ appointment last Thursday. She had to lie on the wet ground for over an hour because staff were unable to move her due to her injuries.

Mrs Crawford, of Kells, said: “As I was leaving the hospital, I went crashing down the stairs. My daughter, who was with me, screamed as I was badly bleeding.

“Nurses from the outpatients department came out to help, as well as hospital transport staff, but they couldn’t move me because of my head.

“One of them rang for an ambulance, while the others brought me five blankets and stayed with me the whole time consoling me. One of the transport staff also kneeled down for the hour holding my head, while the other kept checking if the ambulance was in its way. They were all brilliant and I can’t thank them enough.

“However, I couldn’t believe an ambulance didn’t appear for up to an hour. That was ridiculous. I was trembling from head to toe, it was freezing. The ground was wet, but I couldn’t move. When the ambulance finally appeared my back was soaking.’’

The North West Ambulance Service says that it prioritises calls on a patient’s medical need, rather than location.

Mrs Crawford was then taken to A&E where she was subsequently X-rayed and had an ECG. Due to bed shortages, she was forced to wait in A&E, supported by her daughters and granddaughters, for eight hours until a bed was free on a ward.

“All the staff were marvellous, but I was very tired by the end,’’ Mrs Crawford said. She spent the night at the hospital before being released.

“My hand was swollen and I might have broken some small bones, but I will go back to be checked after Christmas,’’ Mrs Crawford added. “The staff were marvellous throughout it all, but I can’t believe I had to wait so long.”

Her son, Ray Crawford, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting that my 77-year-old mother was left badly shaken and injured, outside on a cold, damp floor for an hour – only a few hundred yards away from the A&E department.

“While she waited for the ambulance, the outpatient services department and the hospital staff were magnificent in looking after her. But how this could take an hour is unbelievable. We will be writing to make a formal complaint.”

A spokesperson for the North West Ambulance Service said: “We understand that waiting for an ambulance can be distressing for both the patient and their family.

“When received, all 999 calls are categorised within the control rooms, based on the information given by the caller, to ensure that patients are prioritised on the basis of their medical need.

“Although the service strives to attend to every patient as quickly as possible, those with serious, life-threatening conditions require a more urgent response.

“We would urge the patient to contact us directly to discuss any concerns they may have.”

Have your say

If you are right Kate, and there were people in the hospital with the appropriate skills and with the proper equipment, it begs the question 'why didn't they treat this lady?'.
Was it a failure to communicate? Were they on a break? Perhaps a costly, time-wasting and resource-wasting internal investigation should commence, to conclude that all proper procedures were followed and lessons have been learned.

Posted by Claire Voyant on 28 December 2013 at 11:05

Phil ... I can assure you and all who have commented that within the hospital there are many people who can immobilise and deal with this type of injury to the same standard as a ambulance crew and yes the moving and handling equipment is also there.

Posted by Kate on 24 December 2013 at 07:17

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