'This is the reality': Woman shares stark video as her elderly mum waits nine hours in an ambulance

  • Watch Claire Manning's report

The daughter of a pensioner left waiting more than nine hours in the back of an ambulance has urged people to try to 'help' the NHS.

Jacqui Fry lives with and cares for her mother Irene, who has a chronic lung condition.

But when Irene needed medical attention on Friday (30 December), Jacqui was forced to call an ambulance, having already tried NHS 111 and her GP.

Jacqui and her 84-year-old mother, from Newton Abbot, began waiting in the ambulance outside of Torbay Hospital at 8.30am and were still there at 5.30pm.

The octogenarian could not be admitted to hospital, because there were no beds available.

Jacqui was so angry and shocked by the delay, she filmed a desperate and emotional video laying bare the reality of rows of ambulances all similarly queuing outside of the hospital.

"This is our NHS", Jacqui said.

"The elderly suffer, everybody that needs the NHS suffers", she added.

Jacqui became so angry after waiting nine hours with her mother that she got out and filmed queues of ambulances waiting to offload patients Credit: Jacqui Fry

Jacqui has said she filmed the queue not to shame or disparage the paramedics and ambulance staff, but because she wanted to make people more aware of the situation at hospitals across the region.

She told ITV West Country: "I just wanted people to realise how bad things were, I know people say 'oh yeah, we know'.

"But do they realise that there are people sitting in those ambulances for hours?"

Jacqui is now urging people to do their bit to help the NHS and speed up the time it takes for people to be admitted to hospital.

She said: "We need to free up beds so that the ambulance crews can go out and help the people that are calling 999 - the ones that are having heart attacks, the ones that have [fallen] and broken their hips.

"We need to do something."

She called on people who have relatives in hospital to come and collect them, so that their bed can be used by somebody arriving at A&E - a message being reiterated by the NHS.

Jacqui added: "Help the ambulance crew, people that have got family in hospital that can't release those beds because they haven't got anywhere to go.

"They're your family, get them home with you, look after them. The government needs to do something."

Irene has now returned home to be cared for by Jacqui once again, freeing up one bed at Torbay Hospital.

But Jacqui and Irene's experience comes as paramedics in the southwest warn that the ambulance service is 'beyond crisis' and 'something has to change'.

Last week also saw the region's ambulance service declare a critical incident, with almost 500 patients left waiting for an ambulance by midday on one day. Today (Tue) it was stood down.

In the week leading up to Christmas, 61% of people taken to University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust by ambulance had to wait more than an hour to be handed over to A&E.

In the same period, 53% percent had to wait more than an hour to be handed over to Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust, and to the Royal Cornwall NHS Trust.

'Real pressure on our system'

Speaking about the handover delays being experienced across hospitals in the region, Dr Nigel Acheson, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Devon, said: "There are periods during winter where pressure on our services really increases.

"It just so happens that for this year we've had that number of infections - the flu, the covid, the other respiratory infections, the norovirus, the diarrhoea vomiting bug - all coming together at around the same time and that has caused a real pressure on our system."