Mother left screaming in pain as she waited 10 hours for an ambulance

Frail elderly mother is left screaming in pain as she waited TEN hours for an ambulance ‘which should have arrived within 18 minutes’ after her desperate son was told ‘there were none available’

  • Stuart Donald’s ‘frail’ mother had to wait over 10 hours for emergency care 
  • Mr Donald first contacted East Midlands Ambulance Service at 9am, but it took them until 7pm that same day to arrive and transport the woman to hospital
  • According to the service it should’ve taken them less than 20 minutes to arrive
  • A frail and elderly mother was left screaming in pain as she waited 10 hours for an ambulance as the appalling wait times for emergency care continue to be laid bare.

    Stuart Donald was alerted by his mother’s care provider at North Lincolnshire Council that she had pushed the emergency button on her lifeline alarm that she wears around her neck after being unable to get out of bed.

    The care provider contacted Mr Donald at 7am that morning, who told carers his ‘frail’ mother required an ambulance. 

    He dialled 111, who told him his mother required emergency care. Two hours later, Mr Donald was contacted by the East Midlands Ambulance service who promised to send an ambulance ‘within six hours’.

    His elderly mother’s realised she couldn’t put any pressure on her legs without experiencing severe pain, but without the prospect of any medical assistance arriving her son drove 20 miles to go and help her.

    Arriving at her Scunthorpe home, Mr Donald called for a family member to help him move his mother, but they failed so he again called for an ambulance six hours later.

    ‘I said: “My mother is sat in absolute agony and we physically can’t move her, we need help – you must have capacity”, and he said, “No, not at the moment, but as soon as someone becomes available we’ll send someone”. 

    After upgrading the incident to a ‘Category Two’ response six hours later, medics should have arrived at the property within 18 minutes. 

    Despite this, it took the ambulance service 10 hours to finally arrive. They have since apologised for the incident and explained they must ‘prioritise the sickest and most severely injured patients first’.

    Mr Donald slammed the service for ‘failing to protect the public’ after his mother’s ordeal.

    Stuart Donald was alerted by his mother's care provider at North Lincolnshire Council that she had pushed the emergency button on her lifeline alarm that she wears around her neck after being unable to get out of bed

    Stuart Donald was alerted by his mother’s care provider at North Lincolnshire Council that she had pushed the emergency button on her lifeline alarm that she wears around her neck after being unable to get out of bed

    After first realising she was unable to get out of bed without screaming in pain, Mr Donald’s mother pushed her alarm button at 7am on Sunday, April 24.

    North Lincolnshire Council, her care provider, initially contacted Mr Donald’s brother, who was in intensive care, but reached him who told them his mother required an ambulance.

    After trying to move her himself, he explained: ‘She said she couldn’t stand up and that she’d been stuck there and she daren’t move sideways because she couldn’t put weight on her legs, and she was scared she’d fall off the bed.

    ‘I couldn’t move her so I rang another family member to help move her, but we couldn’t. 

    ‘We tried to lift her up and she just screamed in pain. We knew then it was an emergency because we had a frail old lady who had been sat on the edge of the bed for six hours, shaking and shivering. 

    ‘It was awful. I rang back and spoke to a very professional lady who said they recognised they hadn’t got to my mum but that it had been upgraded to a Category Two incident’.

    According to the East Midlands Ambulance Service website, Category two incidents are classed as an emergency and should be responded to within 18 minutes 

    Elsewhere, patients have shared their stories of agonising waits for ambulances as NHS England last month admitted it is struggling to cope with a surge in demand and high staff absence rates.

    It comes as dozens of others across the country have reported ‘horrendous’ waiting times, with the Liberal Democrats describing the ambulance services as being at ‘breaking point’. 

    Despite being promised an ambulance six hours prior, her case was upgraded to a 'Category Two' response six hours later, meaning medics should have arrived at the property within 18 minutes

    Despite being promised an ambulance six hours prior, her case was upgraded to a ‘Category Two’ response six hours later, meaning medics should have arrived at the property within 18 minutes

    The ambulance crew eventually arrived at 7.10pm – around ten hours after Mr Donald first called the ambulance for his mother.

    He said: ‘They were brilliant with my mum, I can’t fault them at all. 

    ‘They did checks and said she needed to go to hospital because she’s clearly not right, and she needed hospital care. They took her in an ambulance at about 7.50pm.

    ‘But they’re playing a gambling game. 

    ‘There cannot be adequate cover if it takes nine-plus hours for an emergency response. What would have happened if my mum had deteriorated?

    ‘She was screaming in pain and I was crying because I couldn’t lift her. I was so frustrated because I just didn’t know what else I could do.’  

    Sue Cousland, Divisional Director for Lincolnshire at East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) said: ‘We are really sorry that we were not able to get to her sooner and this is not the level of service we aim to provide for our patients.

    ‘Unfortunately, we continue to experience a sustained level of life-threatening and serious emergency calls and we continually work to prioritise the sickest and most severely injured patients first.

    ‘We are working very closely with all of our health and social care partners to improve the response to patients in Lincolnshire.’

    More than a quarter of patients are being forced to wait at least 30 minutes in ambulances outside hospitals in England  

    More than a quarter of patients arriving by ambulance at hospitals in England in March waited at least 30 minutes to be handed over to A&E departments – the highest level since the start of winter, new figures show.

    Some 21,051 delays of half an hour or longer were recorded across all hospital trusts in the seven days to March 27.

    This was 26% of the 79,588 arrivals by ambulance.

    The proportion of handovers delayed by at least 30 minutes has been rising in recent weeks, having stood at 20% in mid-February.

    Figures for ambulance delays are published by NHS England and the current data runs from the start of December 2021.

    There were 9,225 arrivals last week – 12% of the total – who were kept waiting more than an hour to be handed to A&E teams, up from 10% in the previous week.

    Analysis of the data shows that Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust reported the highest proportion of handovers delayed by at least 30 minutes last month (74%), followed by Gloucestershire Hospitals (71%), University Hospitals Plymouth (71%) and University Hospitals Bristol & Weston (68%).

    University Hospitals Plymouth topped the list for handovers delayed by more than an hour (58%), followed by Northern Lincolnshire & Goole (57%), Gloucestershire Hospitals (54%) and University Hospitals Bristol & Weston (52%).

    A handover delay does not always mean a patient has waited in the ambulance. They may have been moved into an A&E department but staff were not available to complete the handover.

    The figures are another sign of the pressures hospitals are facing amid the latest rise in coronavirus infections.

    Separate data published on Thursday showed staff absences at NHS hospitals in England due to Covid-19 have jumped to their highest level since the end of January, with numbers climbing in all regions.

    Absences averaged 27,571 a day last week – the equivalent of 3% of the workforce – up from 23,127 the previous week, though still some way below the 45,736 (5% of the workforce) reached in early January.

    Responding to the figures, NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: ‘NHS staff remain under pressure as they deal with high numbers of patients in hospital alongside a spike in staff absences due to Covid-19 – with numbers of staff off sick due to Covid almost doubling in the last three weeks.

    ‘Yet NHS staff are working hard to deliver as much routine care as possible, as well as rolling out the NHS spring booster programme, so if you have a health concern, please come forward for the care you need.’

    A total of 15,632 people were in hospital in England with Covid-19 as of March 30, up 18% week on week and the highest since January 19, NHS England said.

    Patient numbers are nearing the peak reached in early January – 17,120 – but remain well below the 34,336 at the peak of the second wave of the virus at the start of 2021.

    Advertisement