Concerns over ambulance coverage in the Grantham area coupled with the town’s night-time A&E closure have heightened as more and more families share their experiences on the Facebook page of campaign group Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital (F4GH).
One such case is that of a mum who was forced to transport her badly injured son to hospital herself after no ambulances were available to take him.
Adele Crompton-Allan, 45, of Moreton Close in Great Gonerby, was at home when her son Harry, 7, rushed in holding his arm. He had been cycling around their small close on his bike with his brother George, 10, and friend Ben, when he lost his balance and fell.
Adele said: “I was just about to call the boys in when I heard a scream. Harry rushed towards me holding his arm and I could immediately tell that he had broken it. There was a lot of blood and I could see the bone coming out of his elbow.”
Hearing the commotion, a neighbour wrapped Harry’s arm in a towel to stem the blood and balanced it on a cushion. Realising that Grantham A&E was closed, the family called for an ambulance just after 8pm, and were told that one would be on its way soon. When the ambulance had not arrived after 20 minutes, they called again to be told that one should be arriving soon.
Adele said: “When one still hadn’t arrived after 45 minutes, we phoned again. This time they were told that one would be on its way but as it had not yet been allocated due to a high volume of other incidents, it could take hours.
“I was frightened that Harry would go into shock. His elbow was getting bigger and so I felt like I was left with little choice but to drive him to Lincoln Hospital myself. The journey was horrendeous as I tried to avoid every bump in the road and keep an eye on Harry at the same time.”
Adele arrived at Lincoln’s hospital just after 9.30pm and parked directly outside A&E leaving Harry in the car while she raced to get help.
“After explaining what had happened, two paramedics, a nurse and an admin assistant rushed to the car. It was another 20 minutes before they thought it was safe enough to move Harry.”
After being X-rayed and given morphine, they decided to transport Harry to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, which would be able to deal with the type of severe break that Harry had suffered.
Adele added: “We were blue lighted to hospital arriving just after 1am. They put Harrys arm in a cast and made him comfortable for the night before operating first thing the next morning, to wire the elbow back into place.”
Harry remained in hospital for two more days and has more follow-up appointments scheduled for the next few weeks.
Adele is fearful for the future but praises the efforts of everyone who helped Harry, adding: “A town this size needs access to an accident and emergency department closeby, however everyone that dealt with us was absolutely fantastic from the porters to the paramedics and nurses.”
Deputy director of operations for East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) Ben Holdaway, said: “On an average day in Lincolnshire we receive over 500 emergency and urgent 999 calls, and we have 45 ambulances and 14 paramedic cars to respond in. On Tuesday we were one fast response car short due to last minute sickness but had good cover across the southern area of Lincolnshire.
“There were ambulances in the area and a crew were on their way to the child, however as the family informed us they were making their own way to hospital the ambulance crew were made available to respond to the next emergency.
“We are sorry that we were unable to get to the patient sooner and ask the family to contact our patient experience team to talk through what happened.”
Adele was not the only one experiencing ambulance delays last week. Rachel Roys contacted 111 after her daughter woke up with breathing difficulties in the early hours of Thursday morning.
After speaking to the operator, they phoned for an ambulance. When it had not arrived an hour later, a paramedic called to say that there were no ambulances available in the area.
Rachel said: “She informed me that we’d be waiting for hours and asked if I could take my daughter to A&E. I asked whether I could attend out of hours in Grantham, so she rang them but by this point it was past 3am and my daughter had gone back to sleep.
“We decided to wait until morning, but she woke an hour later with the same problems. We eventually got seen at Grantham just before 6am and were home within 15 minutes with antibiotics.”
Hospital campaigner Pip Dowse shared Adele’s original post about her son’s injury on social media to raise awareness.
She said: “As a community member, I was initially shocked to learn that two people had reported that they were told there was no ambulance available for our area.
“Then I saw the report of a child with an open wound fracture and was disgusted.
“I know that EMAS have since reported that the ambulance for the child was stood down as the family reported they would transport him themselves, but that was only because of the wait time.
“It’s totally unacceptable.”
** Have you had a similar experience? Get in touch by calling 01476 541431 or email firstname.lastname@example.org