AN AMBULANCE service has admitted that it is struggling to meet demand, after an elderly Parkinson’s Disease sufferer waited 11 hours before being taken to hospital.
North-East Ambulance Service (NEAS) NHS Trust bosses said a surge in winter-related call-outs meant it was having to prioritise patients.
NEAS has apologised to 84-year-old Eileen Anderson, of Marton, Middlesbrough, after it emerged ambulances are queuing for hours at hospitals across the region before being able to hand over patients.
Hospitals, particularly the James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, said the delays in admitting patients are being caused by insufficient staff numbers and a lack of available beds.
The hospital is holding weekly meetings with ambulance bosses in an attempt to alleviate queues of up to ten ambulances stacking up at its entrances.
Paramedics say the delays are preventing them from responding to calls and fear they could lead to a tragedy.
It is understood as well as a rise in patient numbers following Christmas and New Year, hospitals and ambulances receive daily surges in demand following morning and afternoon surgeries at GP practices.
A doctor called for an ambulance for Mrs Anderson at 5.50pm last Tuesday, after she had become dehydrated at the Westmore View Nursing Home.
After medics confirmed the great grandmother was not critically-ill, Mrs Anderson’s daughter, Diane Reubens, 54, and husband David, 53, waited with her at the home until 5am on Wednesday, when an ambulance finally arrived.
Mr Reubens said: “With the best will in the world and we accept emergencies have to take priority we can't believe they were backed up that much."
After Mrs Anderson was taken to James Cook, where she was diagnosed with mild hypothermia due to a lack of fluids, doctors said they expected her to be able return home in the near future.
A NEAS spokeswoman said it was experiencing a high demand for services and had been unable to respond to the call to take Mrs Anderson to the hospital earlier.
She said: “We only have so many resources. If we are dealing with a road smash then that is going to take priority.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop called for a review of emergency healthcare services in the area.
He said: “We are getting more and more of these stories locally, saying ‘this happened to me’. That suggests something going wrong.”