Family's fury as 89-year-old is left outside hospital for more than eight hours in ambulance queue

Tap above to watch video report by Martin Stew

An elderly man who needed urgent medical care after falling on his head was given a 21-hour wait time for an ambulance and then forced to queue in the vehicle for eight hours outside hospital.

The family of Roy Clare, 89, from Southend-on-Sea, called 999 on Tuesday when he fell out of his wheelchair and cut his head open. They were told they shouldn't move him from the floor - but he would have to wait almost a full day for an ambulance.

Mr Clare's daughter, Diane East, who has basic nursing training, cleaned up her father, who has a history of strokes, and put him to bed. The family called 111 on Wednesday morning and were told to get a doctor.

Roy Clare, who has a history of strokes, fell from his wheelchair and was told to wait 21 hours for an ambulance Credit: ITV News/Clare family

Mr Clare's breathing deteriorated and the doctor who visited him on Wednesday evening feared that he may have had another stroke and advised that he be admitted to hospital.

Paramedics initially told Mr Clare's family on Thursday that no ambulances were available, before three vehicles arrived for him by mistake at 2pm.

He was taken to Southend Hospital, but instead of being admitted to its Accident and Emergency unit, he had to wait in a queue of 22 other ambulances outside the hospital.

Mr Clare was finally admitted to A&E at 10:15pm on Thursday - more than eight hours after he was put in an ambulance and almost two days after his family first dialled 999.

Diane East, Roy Clare's daughter, was told her 89-year-old father would have to wait 21 hours for an ambulance

"We sent him into a situation where it was even worse," Mrs East told ITV News.

"Why is there such a bad situation at the hospital?"

Roy Clare's 999 Timeline:

  • Tuesday evening: Mr Clare's family call 999 after he falls from his wheelchair and cuts his head open on a fireplace but are told no ambulances are available for 21 hours

  • Wednesday morning: The family speak to 111 operators and are told to call a doctor

  • Wednesday evening: Doctor visits Mr Clare and says he needs to be admitted to hospital

  • Thursday morning: Family are told there are still no ambulances available

  • Thursday afternoon: Three ambulances turn up at the same time for Mr Clare and he is taken to Southend Hospital, where he is kept waiting outside in the vehicle at the A&E drop-off point

  • Thursday evening: Mr Clare is finally admitted to A&E at 10:15pm, after more than eight hours laying in the ambulance.

L-r: The queue of ambulances waiting outside Southend Hospital on Thursday night and waiting outside the emergency department on Friday Credit: ITV News/Clare family

A spokesperson for Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Our hospitals are experiencing an extremely high demand for their services, with many arriving at A&E by ambulance, reflecting just how busy local NHS and social care providers are.

“We are all working together to respond to this higher demand for services, so that we can provide the best possible care for our patients.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under fire over NHS waiting times earlier this week when his Labour counterpart claimed “things are getting worse, not better” in the NHS.

“In March, he proposed changing the NHS contract – he wants to double the length of time patients can be made to wait for surgery – from one year to two years," Keir Starmer said during Prime Minister’s Questions.

“On top of that he scraps zero-tolerance of 12-hour waits at A&E – 24 Hours in A&E used to be a TV programme, now it’s his policy.”

Mr Johnson said the government is "making colossal investments in our NHS, we’re cutting waiting times, we’re raising standards, we’re paying nurses more, we’re supporting our fantastic NHS."

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