Elderly woman forced to wait for ambulance

Ambulance delay
Ambulance delay

The Ambulance Service has apologised for the length of time an elderly woman had to wait for an ambulance after a fall outside her home last Saturday evening.

They said all their crews were busy on other calls at the time and confirmed it took an hour-and-half to reach the pensioner.

The woman, who lives in Richhill, had been lying for some time before being found by her daughter. She had several broken bones and bad facial injuries.

MLA William Irwin, who was contacted by the woman’s daughter, said, “Two hours elapsed between her daughter contacting 999 and an ambulance arriving at the scene.

“We all know that the emergency services are under extreme pressure and this was a busy time at the weekend for 999 calls. However, the response time to this incident, particularly given the head injuries and trauma sustained by this lady, was simply not acceptable.”

He added, “I have the utmost respect for those who are first responders to any incident. Emergency ambulance crews and paramedics do a tremendous job often in extreme circumstances but it is clear that the NI Ambulance Service (NIAS) need to re-examine as a matter of urgency their levels of 999 ambulance cover particularly at weekends.”

He has written to the Ambulance Service, requesting an urgent review of the levels of emergency ambulance cover, particularly at weekends.

A spokesperson for the Ambulance Service said, “NIAS agrees that this is not an acceptable time for an elderly person to have to wait, in pain, for medical help to arrive.

“NIAS received a call through the 999 system on May 6 at 18:49. Based on the information received the call was given a Category B response.

“Calls are prioritised based on clinical need. At the time of this call all ambulance crews were engaged on other calls and a response was not available until 20:08.”

The statement added, “We would like to apologise to the patient and her family for this delay. Our local management team will seek to make contact with the patient’s family over the coming days to listen to their concerns.

“The Trust also welcomes the opportunity to discuss ambulance issues with local political representatives as it is important that the general public understand the increasing demand on our service in the context of available resources.”