Fury over ambulance delay for poorly great-gran

North West Ambulance Service.
North West Ambulance Service.
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Ambulance bosses have apologised after an injured 89-year-old great-grandmother was left waiting for paramedics for over two hours.

North West Ambulance bosses said today that 400 new frontline staff will be hired and more ambulances provided, following a string of episodes which have left patients waiting desperately for paramedics to arrive.

In the latest incident, Joan Cuff, who suffers from advanced dementia and Parkinson’s Disease, fell and banged her head at Sherwood Lodge in Fulwood, Preston, on Sunday afternoon.

Due to her illnesses and because she was bleeding, staff at the care home dialled 999 for an ambulance, but were told by a call handler it wasn’t an emergency and an ambulance would be there in an hour.

Mrs Cuff was kept lying on the floor due to the injury, but after two hours the ambulance still hadn’t arrived. Worried staff called 999 again, only to be told it could be a further hour, so home staff took her to the Royal Preston Hospital in a taxi.

Mrs Cuff’s son John, who lives in Spain, has now made a formal complaint to the North West Ambulance Service, who have now apologised – and have since announced CCG Ambulance Commissioners have agreed more funding for frontline resources, after a “challenging” year which saw 999 calls rise 8.1%.

Mr Cuff said: “I’m shocked at the response of the

ambulance service.

“I know they’re busy and I understand that it might not have been deemed as an emergency, but this is an 89-year-old woman who is not well, who has been lying on the floor for hours.

“I believe these things should be taken into account in terms of priorities. Even footballers with head injuries are taken straight off the pitch, and they’re fit and healthy.

“Who knows how long it would have taken had the staff at Sherwood Lodge not have called the taxi?”

Mrs Cuff, who ran Cuff’s ice-creams in Ribbleton, was examined by doctors in the Accident and Emergency department of the hospital and has now been discharged back to the home for monitoring.

Management at Sherwood Lodge were unavailable for comment yesterday.

A North West Ambulance Service spokesman said: “The Trust offers its sincere apologies to Mrs Cuff, her family and those at the scene of the incident.

“The Trust constantly strives to attend to all calls as soon as possible however, regretfully, there was a delay with the ambulance attending to the patient.

“Our Patient Experience team has discussed the incident with Mrs Cuff’s son and we have launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident. In the meantime, we hope Mrs Cuff is recovering well.”

Meanwhile, Derek Cartwright, director of operations at NWAS, confirmed last night that commissioners at the CCG are making cash available to purchase more than 60 new ambulances, rapid response vehicles and emergency vehicles for community based paramedics, extend the operating hours of some existing vehicles and to recruit more than 400 additional frontline staff, including more than 40 in the Trust’s call centres.

This includes one extra ambulance and a rapid response vehicle in Preston and the same in Lancaster.

Mr Cartwright said: “This is a fantastic boost for the Trust and I’m sure for the staff who have been working extremely hard to cope with the additional demand. Most of all, it is extremely good news for the people of the North West.”

Allan Jude, director of ambulance commissioning at Blackpool CCG and Lead Ambulance Commissioner for the North West said: “The ambulance service is an integral and key player in the urgent and emergency health system.

“While last year they responded to unprecedented levels of demand, they also managed to significantly increase the number of patients who were successfully treated at home or within the community. By not transporting such patients to hospitals they have relieved some of the significant pressures faced by emergency hospital departments.”