Lilian Briggs was trapped between the door and the units in her kitchen
Lilian Briggs, 86, blacked out on the way into her kitchen and suffered a double fracture to her hip when she collapsed on to the tiled floor. Paramedics were called but, due to “extreme pressure” on the service, Mrs Briggs had to wait eight hours for an ambulance. When the medics did finally arrive, their first instinct was to seek the help of a second crew to help them move her safely.
The pensioner was trapped in an awkward position, and in a great deal of pain, her family said.
Her feet were in the hall and her body was trapped between the door and the kitchen units after the fall on Monday evening.
Mrs Briggs’ son Robert Ewing, 60, told Daily Record: “It is inhumane to leave someone lying like that. You wouldn’t do it to a dog.
“Something has got to be done.”
But Scottish Ambulance Service said Monday was “exceptionally busy” and the service is working under “extreme pressure” with hospitals at full, or near full, capacity across the country.
Lilian suffers from Parkinsons and has a history of heart problems
It is inhumane to leave someone lying like that. You wouldn’t do it to a dog
Mrs Briggs underwent a four-hour-operation at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on Tuesday.
She’s now recovering but Robert and his sister Christine Burtt had to step over her body to reach her to give her some comfort at the home near Edinburgh on Monday.
They couldn’t even provide her with anything to eat or painkillers to ease her suffering in case she needed emergency surgery.
All Robert and Christine could do was cover her with a blanket and cushion her head.
Robert, who is a taxi driver, said: “My mum suffers from Parkinsons and has had two heart attacks in the past. She also has skin cancer on her face.
“On Monday she blacked out. We think she was heading to the kitchen to answer a call from my sister when it happened.
“My mum was looking after my sister’s two dogs for half an hour while she popped out. When she didn’t get any answer she thought mum was either in the garden or something had happened so she went straight round. She only lives five minutes away.
“When she got there she found my mum on the floor. She was conscious but confused.
“She was lying on he floor with her feet sticking into the hallway and her body in the kitchen between the door and the units.
“We knew she had either broken her hip or her thigh bone. She also had bruises on her head.
“After she had been lying there for eight hours she was freezing cold and turning blue.”
Robert Ewing says his mum’s wait to get taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was ‘inhumane’
Robert and Christine had called back the 999 service several times to see what was keeping the ambulance.
“I told them my mum was deteriorating. She was getting more confused and in more pain. I was worried about her Parkinsons and with her heart history,” Robert added.
“I told them ‘I hope the ambulance gets here before my mum dies’. But they just kept saying they had more priority cases than my mother.
“The last time my sister phoned she told them if they didn’t get an ambulance she was going to the Daily Record. And, behold, the ambulance arrived within half an hour.”
Christine had initially phoned 999 about 1pm with the ambulance finally arriving around 8.45pm.
Robert continued: “When the ambulance crew came they were trying to get another ambulance crew to help but no-one was available so I volunteered to help.
“They gave her two doses of morphine and then they put a shawl under her and used it to help put her on a spinal board.
“I couldn’t fault the paramedics, they were brilliant. The delays are not their fault.”
The pensioner waited eight hours for paramedics to arrive
Mrs Briggs, who is twice widowed, has had no visitors in hospital as there is Covid on the ward.
Lib-Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, Robert’s local MSP, stated: “The suffering Lilian must have been through while waiting for care is unimaginable.
“To think someone as frail and vulnerable as her would effectively join the back of the queue for available ambulances underscores how the system is not working.
“Ambulance crews are not to blame. They are being sent where they are told and I am sure they are as devastated as the family that they were not able to arrive any quicker.
“The Government needs to undertake a fundamental review of ambulance procedures and shortages in the workforce.”
Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Bailie, who has been consistently raising the ambulance issue for weeks, commented: “This is such a shocking case I am simply lost for words.
“What this has underlined is all the warnings paramedics have given us about the incredible pressure on the Scottish Ambulance Service and it is frankly outrageous that the Cabinet Secretary for Health is doing nothing to improve the position urgently.”
A Scottish Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “While we are limited in what we can say due to patient confidentiality, we are very sorry for the delay in reaching Mrs Briggs after her fall, and we hope that she is recovering after surgery.
“We are currently experiencing extreme pressure due to hospitals operating at, or near, full capacity and staff abstractions.
“In addition to these external pressures, Monday in particular was exceptionally busy and this regrettably added to response times.
“Our dedicated staff are working incredibly hard to attend to patients as quickly as possible and investment in additional staff, ambulances and the latest equipment across the country continues at pace.”