Woman, 90, waited 40 hours for ambulance after breaking hip in fall

  • Watch Kathy Wardle's report

A 90-year-old woman was forced to wait 40 hours for an ambulance after falling at her home in Cornwall.

Daphne Syms fell over on Sunday (14 August) and pulled the emergency cord in her home which alerted other family members to her fall.

They initially called NHS 111 and, following an assessment, a call handler determined Daphne had a suspected broken hip.

The NHS call handler advised them to call for an ambulance and said Daphne should be moved to a chair and then not moved again.

For the next 40 hours, she sat in the chair waiting with her son Steven, who stayed awake to monitor her.

Steven said: "It gave me an immense sense of frustration, total frustration knowing that the system should be treating somebody an awful lot better than that.

"I mean a 90-year-old lady who's just had a fall, probably broken something, to need to have to wait that sort of time is just not acceptable at all."

When Daphne finally arrived at the Royal Cornwall Hospital she had blood tests and X-rays within an hour.

But she then had to wait outside the hospital in the back of an ambulance because it was too busy inside the hospital to find her a bed.

Steven added: "I didn't realise that she would be spending the next 20 hours in the ambulance, they were using them as extra cubicles for the A&E."

Steven believes that the paramedics are being failed as much as the patients and praised them for the treatment that his mother received.

He added: "My own personal feelings are the system has let me down, and the system is absolutely, totally broken.

"The day mum was taken to hospital there were 24 ambulances outside A&E and every single one of them had a patient in them that was waiting to be admitted."

A spokesperson for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are sorry and upset that we were unable to provide Ms Syms with the timely response and care that she needed. Our ambulance clinicians strive every day to give their best to patients.

“Health and social care services are under enormous pressure. We are working with our partners in the NHS and social care in Cornwall, to do all we can to improve the service that patients receive".

Daphne's family have said that she has coped brilliantly with her ordeal and is now getting a hip replacement after it was determined hers was broken.