The crisis affecting Britain’s ambulance service continues to be highlighted
Father-of-three Dennis Welchman, 75, who fell and broke his hip was left lying in a puddle in heavy rain for nearly four hours before a
South Western NHS Foundation Trust ambulance arrived.
Anxious family and neighbours sheltered Mr Welchman with umbrellas and wrapped him in blankets to keep him as dry and warm as possible.
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The retired builder was found lying in pain just 50 yards from his daughter Careen Chew’s home in Cheddar, Somerset after stumbling getting out of his car.
He was left four hours in the pouring rain, he is 75 and was in the gutter – it’s not acceptable
Careen Chew – Daughter
A passerby found him shortly after 4pm on Tuesday and dialled 999 but there were three further calls until paramedics arrived almost four hours later.
Mr Welchman, who suffered a stroke a few years ago, was taken to the General Hospital in Weston-super-Mare where he underwent surgery to his hip on Wednesday.
Mrs Chew, 45, said: “He was left four hours in the pouring rain, he is 75 and was in the gutter – it’s not acceptable. The rain was heavy and it was running down the side of the road, he was soaking wet.
Dennis Welchman, 75, fell and broke his hip and was left lying in heavy rain for nearly four hours
“The ambulance service may be under-funded, but this is very poor service and disappointing. I feel if you don’t complain and make them aware of it then the service will not be improved.
Peter Box, 84, was the second frail pensioner left to wait for an ambulance to turn up.
Mr Box waited for more than two hours in minus three degree temperatures after collapsing in the street in Little Baddow, Essex, on January 26.
It took 127 minutes for paramedics to arrive, despite two calls being made to the ambulance service, and his wife Kathleen, 77, had to wait with her husband in the then freezing conditions.
Local pharmacist Rupinder Bhangu came to the rescue armed with a sleeping bag and stayed with him until the ambulance arrived.
Mr Bhangu, 43, said: “I just did what I could for him. I just kept him warm, kept chatting to him and sometimes liaising with the ambulance service to make sure everything was OK.
“The ambulance service is over-stretched and they have to prioritise what’s urgent at the time.”
Peter Box, 84, had to wait for an ambulance for more than two hours in-3C after collapsing
When Mr Box, from Danbury, Essex, eventually got to hospital, tests were carried out and he was discharged by 7pm the same day.
Paramedics, who are on the Government’s official ‘shortage occupation list’, are taking ever longer to get to patients.
They are arriving late to more than a third of life-threatening emergencies – with nearly 2,600 critically ill patients every day waiting for more than the eight-minute target time.
And the number of these category A calls received by ambulance control centres has increased by 18 per cent in the last year.
Last week the National Audit Office warned that ambulance crews are finding it “increasingly difficult to cope” as it suggested lifting the eight-minute target time of arrival for some calls.
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A spokesman for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “During the time the patient waited for an ambulance to arrive we were dealing with two time-critical life threatening emergencies in Cheddar.
“Based on the information given and coupled with the fact the patient was conscious and breathing, the call was categorised as ‘priority three’ which is classified as not immediately life threatening.
“Owing to the volume of calls the ambulance service is dealing with, more than 500 additional calls every day than five years ago, it is necessary to prioritise our resources to patients who are unconscious and not breathing.”
An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We received a call on 26th January at 12.18pm to reports of an elderly man who had fainted in Little Baddow.
“Unfortunately due to a high demand of serious and life threatening calls, totalling more than 370 in Essex that day, an ambulance arrived at 2.25pm.”
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