Newcastle grandmother, 95, says she waited almost nine hours for an ambulance amid NHS pressures
A 95-year-old woman from Newcastle said she waited 8 hours for an ambulance last month after falling in her Kitchen.
On 9 December, the day after her 95th birthday, Jean Fullerton said she laid on her kitchen floor from around 10:30pm till around 6:15am the following morning.
Her granddaughter, 44-year-old Kelly Leighton, lives two streets away and waited with her for the paramedics to arrive.
Ms Leighton said: "She was crying at one point, it was just horrible to see her on the floor.
"I went and got cushions and pillows and blankets and I did what I could.
"It was horrible, it was heartbreaking."
The family were advised not to get Ms Fullerton off of the floor as it was suspected she had shattered her coccyx and banged her head.
Ms Leighton said she rang 999 three or four times because she thought they had been forgotten.
It was only when Ms Leighton's husband was leaving for work the following morning and found out that they were still waiting for an ambulance, that the family decided to ignore advice and try and get Ms Fullerton up off of the floor.
Ms Leighton said: "He came at just after 6am and he said 'well we’ll just try and lift her up and at least get her on her chair' and so that's what we did, which probably we shouldn’t have done.
"Then the ambulance turned up just as he was leaving."
The paramedics informed the family that at that time the wait for patients to be seen at A&E was three to four hours and so Ms Fullerton decided to stay at home.
She then spent the weekend in pain and eventually called out her GP on the following Tuesday who sent her the the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, for an X-ray.
The family then spent around seven hours in A&E that day whilst Ms Fullerton had X-rays and blood tests.
Ms Leighton said: "I’m a carer so it's hard to watch really, you know they’ve always been good with me and all my family up until now, but also I don’t blame them either."
Deputy chief operating officer of the North East Ambulance Service, Victoria Court, said: “We are sorry for the delay that Mrs Fullerton experienced. This is not the level of service we want to deliver.
"On that day, we were operating at our highest levels of escalation due to unprecedented demand across the health service.
“We answered more calls on this night than in four of the last five New Year’s Eve nights, which historically used to be our busiest night of the year. Instead of one night in the year, we are seeing high demand every night of the year.
“We are working closely with our system partners to reach patients quicker and apologise to anyone who hasn’t received the service they would expect.
"Delays to ambulance responses is not something we can address alone. This will require change across health and social care to address capacity and free up patients who do not need to be in hospital."
A spokesperson from the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospital NHS Foundation Trust service said: "We are sorry Ms Fullerton was in the department for several hours – if she or her family have any concerns we’d be happy to discuss them if they would like to get in touch.
"Like many trusts, our Emergency Department has been very busy and, at times, these pressures do, unfortunately, lead to some patients waiting longer than we would aim for.”
It comes as people are being warned that A&E, urgent care and ambulance services are still facing "extreme levels" of pressure.
Patients across the North East and North Cumbria are being told to only call 999 or visit A&E if their condition is a threat to life or limb.
Patients have been advised to expect long waits as services focus their attention on the most urgent cases.
Dr Neil O'Brien, executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: "In common with the health and care system across the country, our A&E and ambulance services are under huge pressure.
"We are working hard to ensure that patients who need emergency care are seen as quickly as possible and are prioritising patient care as best we can based on their need."
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