United Kingdom

Pensioner who collapsed on floor waited for five hours for an ambulance

Leon Moody was left waiting five hours for an ambulance after falling at his home in Oxfordshire (Picture: SWNS)

A pensioner who collapsed was left on the floor in pain for five hours waiting for an ambulance because his local service was too busy.

Leon Moody, 72, fell over in his Oxfordshire home at around 9am on October 5, and his carer immediately called for an ambulance.

His son Mark, 35, from nearby Chipping Norton, rushed over to the house in Kingham, but they were too scared to move his dad in case it made his injuries worse.

After an hour, they still had no response from South Central Ambulance Service so Mark rang 999 again to check where the vehicle was.

He eventually got through to a call handler, who said he had been put through to a Yorkshire branch over 200 miles away because local services could not answer. 

An ambulance eventually arrived some time after 2pm, Mark said. 

Leon said he has now ‘lost all faith in the health service’ after his long wait for assistance.

It comes amid a crisis across Britain, which has seen severely ill patients left waiting in the back of ambulances outside A&E for 12 hours.  

Ambulances are supposed to hand patients over to the hospital within 15 minutes of arriving so they can get back on the road– but 35,000 patients waited for more than an hour in September.

Leon’s son Mark, right, said the five-hour wait for the ambulance made him think: ‘What if my dad was having a heart attack or something really serious?’ (Picture: SWNS)

Waiting for transfers to hospital has been linked to two deaths in the past week.

Mark told the Oxfordshire Mail : ‘An hour went by (after the original call) and we had not heard anything and nobody had arrived. 

‘Obviously, my dad was in a lot of pain and was distressed because of having to lie on the floor like that, so I rang 999 and it was just ringing and ringing. 

‘It was going on like this for about three minutes.

‘I got through to someone and explained to them that my dad has had a fall. The call handler was getting the details up and he said: “You are in the south-east aren’t you?”.’

He said the call handler told him Yorkshire was the nearest call centre available as every local service was too busy.

Mark said he ‘could not believe’ how poor the service was.

He was put through to a different call operator after waiting for over an hour more.

When the ambulance arrived hours late, Mark said the paramedics were ‘brilliant’.

But he said the wait made him consider what would have happened if his father’s condition was more serious.

He said: ‘I was just sat there thinking, what if my dad was having a heart attack or something really serious?

‘Those minutes they took to answer would have made all the difference between life or death. I have never seen anything like it.’

Leon is said to be doing ‘okay’ after his experience but he wants ‘people to take notice of what is going on’ and for his ‘voice to be heard’.

South Central Ambulance Service said: ‘While we always want to respond to all our patients as soon as we can, calls are prioritised based on clinical need to ensure those who are sickest receive the care and treatment they require as quickly as possible.

‘Unfortunately there will be occasions when this prioritisation means some patients will wait longer, particularly at times of extreme pressure on the service as we are seeing currently, but we would be happy to talk the patient and their family to explain more about this process if they would like to get in touch with us directly via our patient experience team.’

Their service covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.

On Saturday it said it was ‘overwhelmed’ with calls, blaming GP waiting-list backlogs and ambulance queues at hospitals for its slow services.

The service declared a ‘critical incident’, imploring the public to only call 999 in a ‘life threatening or serious emergency’. 

Earlier this week, ambulance leaders described the ‘highest level of emergency activity in history’ and reports from around the country paint a bleak picture of ambulances queuing for hours outside busy hospitals.

Martin Flaherty, managing director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, said: ‘The ambulance sector is experiencing some of the highest levels of emergency activity in its history and this is regrettably leading to delays in the sector’s ability to respond to some patients.’

The College of Paramedics warned the UK faces a ‘bleak’ winter as the NHS prepares to fight normal seasonal pressure on top of Covid. 

Richard Webber, a paramedic and spokesman for the college, said: ‘This issue has been bad for a while, hospitals have been so much busier.

‘Patients are being admitted and what’s happening is they cannot move them straight into A&E, so ambulances have become cabs waiting to unload outside hospitals.

‘Our members are reporting delays of four to six hours in getting to people, which means there can be up to 15 ambulances waiting outside hospitals with patients inside.

‘This also creates a backlog of 999 calls. I’m talking (about) up to 300 calls for a service to deal with, leaving people to wait at home potentially in need of serious medical attention.

‘Everything is therefore taking longer; staff are dealing with three or four incidents every shift, when they would usually do as many as eight.’

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