Broken hip pensioner waited three hours for ambulance as she was "42nd in the queue"

NEAS: Frustrated at growing criticism

NEAS: Frustrated at growing criticism

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Parliamentary Correspondent

A PENSIONER who fell and broke her hip waited three hours for an ambulance because she was “42nd in the queue”, an MP has revealed.

The long wait is the latest evidence that the performance of the North East Ambulance Services (NEAS) is “spiralling out of control”, Pat Glass warned.

The 999 incident, which happened late last month, comes hard-on-the-heels of other worrying cases of patients waiting several hours for an ambulance across the region, highlighted by North-East MPs.

This week, a Commons debate was told that an ambulance manager had admitted the cash-strapped service was unable to answer emergency calls quickly enough.

Ms Glass, the North West Durham MP said: “Cases have been raised with me every week. The latest one involved an elderly lady who fell outside and broke her hip.

“When her son rang to find out where the ambulance was, he was told that she was 42nd in the queue.

“She was lying outside with a broken hip for three hours - and that happened in Consett, where there is an ambulance service in the town.”

But, last night, NEAS hit back, hinting at growing frustration at the criticism that it is being “portrayed as a service in crisis”.

A spokeswoman said it was expected to reach 75 per cent of “potentially life threatening situations” within eight minutes – but was close to the 80 per cent mark.

And she suggested people ringing 999 about incidents that were not emergencies – rather than a lack of funding – led to any delays.

The spokeswoman said: “A bottomless pit of cash for NEAS might temporarily ease the situation, but it would not solve the problem.

“It’s more about people using the NHS properly and not tying up valuable resources unnecessarily.”

In the last few weeks, MPs have raised the cases of:

* William Gouldburn, a 73-year-old retired teacher who died after a fall in his Hartlepool bathroom, after waiting around two hours for an ambulance.

* Florence McNeilly, who fell in her Darlington bathroom at 6pm - but paramedics did not arrive at the scene until 10.45pm.

* Jessie Higginbottom, an 82-year-old from Newton Aycliffe who was vomiting blood. An ambulance took almost four hours to arrive.

* An un-named Hartlepool man with kidney failure – when an ambulance did not arrive for two hours ten minutes.

NEAS’s funding has been cut by around ten per cent, in real terms, over the last two years, Hartlepool MP Iain Wright told this week’s debate.

But the spokeswoman also pointed out the knock-on problems caused by well-documented delays checking patients in at casualty departments, which kept ambulances off the road.

And she said: “Over the last 12-months, NEAS has consistently been one of the highest performing ambulance services in the country for reaching emergency patients – yet we are portrayed as a service in crisis.”

There is no national target for reaching ‘green’ - non-life-threatening – calls, but NEAS has set its own target of doing so within one hour.

This week, health minister Jane Ellison, said of NEAS: “Fast response times are being delivered in the vast majority of cases. It exceeds its targets for response times and should be commended.”

However, Ms Glass said North-East MPs were pushing for a further chance to put ministers on the spot next month, saying: “The whole situation is spiralling out of control.”

Comments (14)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:42am Sat 17 May 14

roblatch says...

what more can be expected when you have to travel miles and miles to an a&e department thats open and operational whilst bypassing the many thats been closed down
what more can be expected when you have to travel miles and miles to an a&e department thats open and operational whilst bypassing the many thats been closed down roblatch
  • Score: 18

9:05am Sat 17 May 14

mike1952 says...

The whole A & E system needs bringing up to scratch. I picked a relative up from A & E one afternoon and there were 12 ambulances outside A & E some I suppose just collecting and delivering. My relative came out and said a woman ran in saying her husband collapsed in the hospital car park only to be told she would have to ring for an ambulance (Hospital Policy). Now 12 ambulances with 2 paramedics to an ambulance somewhere there were 24 ambulance men wondering about plus A & E staff. I really feel for A & E staff indeed the majority of nurses (my wife is one) but surely someone with a twisted ankle in A & E could be left while someone went out to possible save a life. The same policy I understand is most hospital's policy so don't collapse in the car crawl in to A & E you will be seen eventually.
The whole A & E system needs bringing up to scratch. I picked a relative up from A & E one afternoon and there were 12 ambulances outside A & E some I suppose just collecting and delivering. My relative came out and said a woman ran in saying her husband collapsed in the hospital car park only to be told she would have to ring for an ambulance (Hospital Policy). Now 12 ambulances with 2 paramedics to an ambulance somewhere there were 24 ambulance men wondering about plus A & E staff. I really feel for A & E staff indeed the majority of nurses (my wife is one) but surely someone with a twisted ankle in A & E could be left while someone went out to possible save a life. The same policy I understand is most hospital's policy so don't collapse in the car crawl in to A & E you will be seen eventually. mike1952
  • Score: 10

9:18am Sat 17 May 14

greenfinger says...

That women should have been picked up, x-rayed, emergency op and tucked up in bed on the ward for 10-45. Stop all foreign aid until all cases of this nature are stopped. why are we sending money overseas and services like these are needed here? It's a total disgrace. I'll never wait for an ambulance, never in a million years. thats probably how long you would end up waiting anyway. Id ring a taxi rather than wait for them to let me suffer.
That women should have been picked up, x-rayed, emergency op and tucked up in bed on the ward for 10-45. Stop all foreign aid until all cases of this nature are stopped. why are we sending money overseas and services like these are needed here? It's a total disgrace. I'll never wait for an ambulance, never in a million years. thats probably how long you would end up waiting anyway. Id ring a taxi rather than wait for them to let me suffer. greenfinger
  • Score: 12

9:49am Sat 17 May 14

thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth says...

The true state of our NHS under the Tories demonstrated in all it's glory right here in this shocking story. There simply is no excuse at all for this.
We all pay huge amounts of tax, so what exactly is going on in this country.
The true state of our NHS under the Tories demonstrated in all it's glory right here in this shocking story. There simply is no excuse at all for this. We all pay huge amounts of tax, so what exactly is going on in this country. thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth
  • Score: 8

10:18am Sat 17 May 14

tubgut says...

Divert some of the overseas aid budget, I forgot we come last on the governments list of priorities much rather give it to the robber barons of the third world. All the finger point at the body politic who have abandoned the people. The electorate keep voting them in, familiar with turkeys voting for Christmas?
Divert some of the overseas aid budget, I forgot we come last on the governments list of priorities much rather give it to the robber barons of the third world. All the finger point at the body politic who have abandoned the people. The electorate keep voting them in, familiar with turkeys voting for Christmas? tubgut
  • Score: 11

12:29pm Sat 17 May 14

Pete Sakes says...

A friend of mine recently tried to get an appointment with his GP because he could not breathe, needless to say he couldn't get one. So he went to the local walk in centre. They phoned his GP and told them he needed an appointment. They then told him to go back to the GP surgery and sit and wait until someone saw him. One and a half hours later he was seen by a nurse who listened to his chest and did some tests. She told him to go to the local walk in centre for a chest X-ray and make an appointment to go back to the GP surgery in two weeks. Unfortunately by this time the walk in centre was closed, and it was a Friday afternoon, so he had to wait until Monday. He went to the walk in centre for his chest X-ray on Monday and they told him to immediately make his way back to his GP surgery because he had a collapsed lung. The GP surgery put him on oxygen and called for an ambulance at 3pm to take him to hospital. He phoned me at 6.35 pm to say that he was still at the doctors surgery but he had been upgraded to a 999 call at 6 pm. He finally arrived at the hospital 7.40 pm after waiting over 4 hours for an ambulance and being messed about by GP's and walk in centres. A disgusting service by all involved.
A friend of mine recently tried to get an appointment with his GP because he could not breathe, needless to say he couldn't get one. So he went to the local walk in centre. They phoned his GP and told them he needed an appointment. They then told him to go back to the GP surgery and sit and wait until someone saw him. One and a half hours later he was seen by a nurse who listened to his chest and did some tests. She told him to go to the local walk in centre for a chest X-ray and make an appointment to go back to the GP surgery in two weeks. Unfortunately by this time the walk in centre was closed, and it was a Friday afternoon, so he had to wait until Monday. He went to the walk in centre for his chest X-ray on Monday and they told him to immediately make his way back to his GP surgery because he had a collapsed lung. The GP surgery put him on oxygen and called for an ambulance at 3pm to take him to hospital. He phoned me at 6.35 pm to say that he was still at the doctors surgery but he had been upgraded to a 999 call at 6 pm. He finally arrived at the hospital 7.40 pm after waiting over 4 hours for an ambulance and being messed about by GP's and walk in centres. A disgusting service by all involved. Pete Sakes
  • Score: 15

7:45pm Sat 17 May 14

SS says...

And to think that the NHS is encouraging pregnant women to have home births. Until they sort out the ambulance service I would not even consider it. I personally feel it has a lot to do with the 111 service which is, incidentally, run by NEAS. My toddler fell and bumped his head on the TV stand about a year ago and I rang to get an appointment in the Walk-In Centre as I didn't think it warranted a trip to A&E. They would have sent an ambulance if my other half hadn't been at home. They also spent 11 minutes giving me instructions what to do if he had a funny turn on the way to the walk-in centre, but it only took us 6 minutes to drive there........crazy.
And to think that the NHS is encouraging pregnant women to have home births. Until they sort out the ambulance service I would not even consider it. I personally feel it has a lot to do with the 111 service which is, incidentally, run by NEAS. My toddler fell and bumped his head on the TV stand about a year ago and I rang to get an appointment in the Walk-In Centre as I didn't think it warranted a trip to A&E. They would have sent an ambulance if my other half hadn't been at home. They also spent 11 minutes giving me instructions what to do if he had a funny turn on the way to the walk-in centre, but it only took us 6 minutes to drive there........crazy. SS
  • Score: 2

11:14pm Sat 17 May 14

bambara says...

The UK spends only 2/3rds what France or Germany do on helath services.
We spend half what the USA does on health services.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the UK health service is rated higher than either the USA or Germany, (but well below France which is rated #1)

So the UK is outperforming the USA and outperforming the (highly efficient) Germans, but there is only so much you can do with a budget which is far less than other G7 countries.

Could you imaging how much better health services would be if the UK had half again as many hospital beds, half again as many GP's, half again as many Ambulances, half again as many nurses, doctors, consultants...
That is what we could get if we ploughed in as much money as Germany or France.

Instead of that the government is intent on finding ways to privatise the service, selling off the NHS piece by piece.

The Tories don't want the NHS to be able to function effectively and they are cutting the budget bit by bit to ensure it doesn't. (2% efficiency savings every year. 2% Cut by a different name to a service that is already highly efficient and under starin.)

The Tories want a health service owned and run by big business, where the wealthy owners can make a very nice profit and the needs of the patients comes a long way down the priority list.
The UK spends only 2/3rds what France or Germany do on helath services. We spend half what the USA does on health services. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the UK health service is rated higher than either the USA or Germany, (but well below France which is rated #1) So the UK is outperforming the USA and outperforming the (highly efficient) Germans, but there is only so much you can do with a budget which is far less than other G7 countries. Could you imaging how much better health services would be if the UK had half again as many hospital beds, half again as many GP's, half again as many Ambulances, half again as many nurses, doctors, consultants... That is what we could get if we ploughed in as much money as Germany or France. Instead of that the government is intent on finding ways to privatise the service, selling off the NHS piece by piece. The Tories don't want the NHS to be able to function effectively and they are cutting the budget bit by bit to ensure it doesn't. (2% efficiency savings every year. 2% Cut by a different name to a service that is already highly efficient and under starin.) The Tories want a health service owned and run by big business, where the wealthy owners can make a very nice profit and the needs of the patients comes a long way down the priority list. bambara
  • Score: 3

11:18pm Sat 17 May 14

bambara says...

tubgut wrote:
Divert some of the overseas aid budget, I forgot we come last on the governments list of priorities much rather give it to the robber barons of the third world. All the finger point at the body politic who have abandoned the people. The electorate keep voting them in, familiar with turkeys voting for Christmas?
Ah but the overseas aid is then spent by the recipients on products which are sold to them by british companies. It is in effect a way for the government to subsdise exports and subsidise their friends and their companies.

But their friends don't need to use the NHS, it is Harley street for them (perish the thought they would have to mix with ordinary people) so why would they worry about the NHS budget.
[quote][p][bold]tubgut[/bold] wrote: Divert some of the overseas aid budget, I forgot we come last on the governments list of priorities much rather give it to the robber barons of the third world. All the finger point at the body politic who have abandoned the people. The electorate keep voting them in, familiar with turkeys voting for Christmas?[/p][/quote]Ah but the overseas aid is then spent by the recipients on products which are sold to them by british companies. It is in effect a way for the government to subsdise exports and subsidise their friends and their companies. But their friends don't need to use the NHS, it is Harley street for them (perish the thought they would have to mix with ordinary people) so why would they worry about the NHS budget. bambara
  • Score: 2

12:13am Sun 18 May 14

pandorica says...

There is not enough ambulances to cover the north east, fact. There are silly people out there who use the ambulance as a taxi service, fact. There are people out there who misuse the service and ring 999 for a emergency ambulance for the likes of toothache, period pain, fact. There are also people out there who like to see people sit on a bathroom floor for 3 hours when they are quite capable of helping them up, phoning their GP, or even taking their family who do not need an ambulance to hospital themselves but don't, fact/

And there are mangers within the service who do not listen to their frontline staff and do not have a clue, fact.

I will defend the crews all the way. They are flogged. And as for one post above where 12 ambulances were parked outside when a man collapsed in the car park, perhaps you were not informing them of the truth there. I think these reporters should spend a week with the frontline crews and see it as it is. They never stop, get abused assaulted and are on the go for up to 15 hours a day. We need more ambulances, more frontline paramedics and not voluntary organisations brought in by management to meet response times.

I waited 2 hours for an emergency ambulance when I was poorly and I know I was not assessed properly by the control operator. That again needs sorting out, after all they are the ones sending the ambulances out on calls. Leave the paramedics out of it and get on at the managers and government who shut down A&E units and forced crews to drive further to the nearest open unit.
There is not enough ambulances to cover the north east, fact. There are silly people out there who use the ambulance as a taxi service, fact. There are people out there who misuse the service and ring 999 for a emergency ambulance for the likes of toothache, period pain, fact. There are also people out there who like to see people sit on a bathroom floor for 3 hours when they are quite capable of helping them up, phoning their GP, or even taking their family who do not need an ambulance to hospital themselves but don't, fact/ And there are mangers within the service who do not listen to their frontline staff and do not have a clue, fact. I will defend the crews all the way. They are flogged. And as for one post above where 12 ambulances were parked outside when a man collapsed in the car park, perhaps you were not informing them of the truth there. I think these reporters should spend a week with the frontline crews and see it as it is. They never stop, get abused assaulted and are on the go for up to 15 hours a day. We need more ambulances, more frontline paramedics and not voluntary organisations brought in by management to meet response times. I waited 2 hours for an emergency ambulance when I was poorly and I know I was not assessed properly by the control operator. That again needs sorting out, after all they are the ones sending the ambulances out on calls. Leave the paramedics out of it and get on at the managers and government who shut down A&E units and forced crews to drive further to the nearest open unit. pandorica
  • Score: 15

10:28am Mon 19 May 14

frg558w says...

Pandorica - Well said.
The A&E crews really do deserve praise but the management are lying to us
NEAS claims not to be in crisis!!!
Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014 NEAS spent £1,974,869.61 on using St John Ambulance to answer 999 calls, they don't train their staff any where near the level that NEAS do so why use them? Surely a good management team would see that they need to spend that money on recruiting to run an effective service NOT giving it away. Another service they are spending a significant amount of money on County Durham EMS. Senior members of staff from NEAS work part time for them and are giving work to them, a paramedic from NEAS has been a Director of the company and the director of the private company is now a GOVENOR of NEAS !!!!!!! Conflict of interest? Would make an interesting story for Inside Out?
Pandorica - Well said. The A&E crews really do deserve praise but the management are lying to us NEAS claims not to be in crisis!!! Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014 NEAS spent £1,974,869.61 on using St John Ambulance to answer 999 calls, they don't train their staff any where near the level that NEAS do so why use them? Surely a good management team would see that they need to spend that money on recruiting to run an effective service NOT giving it away. Another service they are spending a significant amount of money on County Durham EMS. Senior members of staff from NEAS work part time for them and are giving work to them, a paramedic from NEAS has been a Director of the company and the director of the private company is now a GOVENOR of NEAS !!!!!!! Conflict of interest? Would make an interesting story for Inside Out? frg558w
  • Score: 1

2:04pm Mon 19 May 14

frg558w says...

A link to the latest Care Quality Commission report showing that the CQC are taking enforcement action against NEAS. Still claim to be the best? Read the report.
http://www.cqc.org.u
k/node/316461
A link to the latest Care Quality Commission report showing that the CQC are taking enforcement action against NEAS. Still claim to be the best? Read the report. http://www.cqc.org.u k/node/316461 frg558w
  • Score: 1

3:53pm Tue 20 May 14

bambara says...

Lack of resources, and too many layers of management.
Not enough doctors, not enough nurses, not enough hospitals, not enough ambulances, and too many managers tasked with making trusts compete against each other.
Lack of resources, and too many layers of management. Not enough doctors, not enough nurses, not enough hospitals, not enough ambulances, and too many managers tasked with making trusts compete against each other. bambara
  • Score: 4

9:40am Thu 22 May 14

Copley23 says...

But please, all the buffoons who simply cannot wait to see their own GP because their in-growing toe nail is hurting......DON"T clog up A&E.......you aren't helping the matter!
But please, all the buffoons who simply cannot wait to see their own GP because their in-growing toe nail is hurting......DON"T clog up A&E.......you aren't helping the matter! Copley23
  • Score: 2

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree