An elderly woman was left waiting for an ambulance for three hours in Grantham after breaking her femur – and then had to endure another two hours in a queue to get into Lincoln County Hospital’s A&E department.
Hazel Baines, who is 83 and has dementia, fell over after crossing Harrowby Lane at around 5pm on Thursday.
Three hours after her fall an ambulance arrived and took her to Lincoln where it had to wait in a queue for two hours before Hazel could be admitted at midnight – more than six hours after her fall.
Her son, Nigel, says she underwent an operation on Sunday and remains in hospital. He says it is unlikely she will be allowed to go back home to Belton Lane because of her dementia.
Mr Baines, who lives in Hertfordshire, said what shocked him most was a picture posted by Jamie Mudie on Facebook showing Hazel sat in a chair by the side of the road under an umbrella waiting for the ambulance.
Mr Baines thanked those who helped his mother and said: “I am sadly shocked, but not surprised. I know she would have told people she is not in pain, but she would have been in terrible pain.”
Mr Mudie said Hazel fell outside his house and she told him her hip was hurting. He sat her in a chair and made her as comfortable as he could. He called an ambulance but said he was told that it was not serious enough for one to be sent and he should call a taxi. The taxi company he contacted said they could not take her because of her condition.
Mr Mudie rang for an ambulance again. He said: “At 7.15pm a paramedic car arrived and tried to take the usual observations but could not do so as she was that cold from sitting there for near three hours. Ten minutes after the car arrived an ambulance finally turned up and got her into the warmth and took her to hospital.”
He added: “It’s disgusting having to wait three hours for an ambulance because some bigwigs decided to shut A&E.”
Mr Baines said his mother’s distress was further compounded when she had to wait at Lincoln’s A&E. He said she had broken the neck of her femur on her left side.
Mr Baines said: “On top of this, on arrival at Lincoln Hospital, an hour or so from Grantham, she had a two-hour wait in the ambulance as they were eighth in the queue.
“She’s recovering from her op but her mental condition appears to have taken another step down.”
Last month, the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) told the Journal that it was taking on average seven patients a night to other hospitals following the closure of A&E in Grantham.
This week, Blanche Lentz, EMAS general manager, said: “Every 999 call is assessed using the information shared by the caller in order to prioritise patients who are experiencing a life-threatening emergency. We receive an average of 500 emergency and urgent 999 calls every day across Lincolnshire and have to categorise calls so that our 45 ambulances and 14 fast response cars with skilled clinicians on board are sent to those in most serious need.
“Significant peaks in 999 and hospital demand bring real challenges and there are occasions when we are not able to get to people as quickly as we want or need to.
“In this case, the initial 999 call reported a non-life threatening injury, confirming the patient was alert, sat in a chair and did not want an ambulance sending. The paramedic already en route was therefore stood down and made available for a new 999 call.
“A new 999 call over half an hour later reported a hip injury and we aimed to get an ambulance to the patient within 30 minutes. Sadly, due to high demand and lack of available resource there was a delay for which I am sorry, particularly given the discomfort the patient would have experienced as a result of her injury.
“We’re doing everything we can to improve our service including recruiting 300 more frontline staff this year and investing in new ambulances. We continue to work with our commissioners and the hospitals to reduce hospital handover delays allowing our ambulances to get back out on the road to respond to new 999 calls.”
Mark Brassington, chief operating officer at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, apologised to Mrs Baines and said management are “working hard to reduce waiting times at A&E”. He added: “Over the last few months, we’ve seen a significant rise in demand on all of our A&Es and a delay in discharging patients at a time where we have a shortage of staff. We have had a number of particularly busy days where we have experienced excessive waits and we regret the impact this has had on our patients. During these times we always prioritise the sickest patients to ensure appropriate care is given. We are not able to attribute the spikes in waiting times or ambulance delays to the impact of the night time closure of Grantham A&E.
“We are making investments and working with our colleagues at EMAS to reduce the hand-over times from ambulance to the A&E department. We have invested £1 million into our A&E departments to increase our nursing numbers. We are also working hard to recruit more permanent members of medical staff.”