LYING on the hard, cold floor, his head arched backwards in pain, the 95-year-old man sobbed for the ambulance to arrive.

His son watched helplessly, not knowing what to do except take a video of his father’s suffering.

Robert Craig, a retired baker from Middlesbrough, fell in his bathroom and landed with a clatter on the hard, lino floor, shattering his hip, as reported in today’s Northern Echo.

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Six and a half hours later, with neighbours trying to offer comfort, covering him in blankets, putting his head on cushions, and chasing up the ambulance service, he was still lying there, in agony.

Even as a cynical ageing hack, the video was not an easy watch. It has been circulated extensively on Facebook by those shocked by his extensive suffering.

Here, in the first world, where we are supposed to have enough food to eat and human rights, was one of the most vulnerable people in our society undergoing torture through neglect.

Every winter it seems there are more and more stories of people having extensive waits for ambulances – and it is often the elderly, the vulnerable, who are affected.

The North East Ambulance Service was having recruitment problems a year or two ago, but these delays are not confined to our region.

Elderly Mr Craig, and his extreme suffering, is the tragic face of austerity.

With cutbacks, comes the human cost. Services in every area are struggling.

While some might be upset by the state of the streets, the back alleys, or the grass which hasn’t been cut in six weeks, behind the scenes people like Mr Craig are silently going through hardship.

Under the radar, cuts to health, education and local government services mean there is a whole layer of society which is needlessly neglected.

As a supposedly progressive civilisation, shouldn’t we be protecting our most vulnerable?

Instead of telling the dying, the incapacitated, that they have to get up and work, we should actually take the worry out of their lives and support them through the toughest times.

I would rather pay a bit of extra tax and know that children being abused or neglected have enough experienced and consistent social workers to watch over them.

I’d rather pay that bit more and feel secure that most of the time our ambulances will arrive on time to those people who need it, those who could be our children, our parents or our grandparents.

I’d rest easily if I knew the children with extra needs were getting the help they needed in our schools, that those suffering from life limiting conditions were given the drugs they needed, without authorities having to take difficult decisions about funding.

It’s time for austerity to end. It’s gone too far. In government, as in business, pound signs are coming before people.

And if the government doesn’t look after them, who will?

If a society is measured on how it treats its most vulnerable, as Mahatma Ghandi once said, then ours is surely woefully lacking.

The time has come to stop scrimping on our hospitals, ambulances, on our schools, and on vital services. Austerity must end.