A STRICKEN grandmother had to wait almost four hours for an ambulance after she broke her leg.
Retired nurse Dorothy Varley, 76, was left crying in agony after she fell at her home in Horden, near Peterlee.
Despite making repeated 999 calls, her son Paul, 44, from Easington, could only look on helplessly as his mother lay on the floor.
“I didn’t want to move her, she was in such a lot of pain.
“All I could do was try to comfort her as best I could.
“Thankfully, I was in the house when she fell, otherwise it could have been a lot worse. I repeatedly dialled 999.
“The operator said they were doing their best, but they were dealing with other call-outs.”
Dorothy was eventually taken to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, where she is continuing her recovery.
Nissan worker Paul said: “When the paramedics arrived, they were great. I can’t fault them at all.
“It is just they are so stretched they need more resources.
“I called just after 4pm and it was 8pm when they arrived.
“The operator said they were dealing with a heart attack and someone who was choking.
“I understand why they have to be dealt with straightaway.
“But people shouldn’t have to wait four hours for treatment for a broken leg, especially the elderly.”
North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) needs to save £20million over the next five years under Government cuts.
Plans to “reorganise” were announced last year.
Dorothy’s family has submitted a complaint to NEAS.
A spokeswoman said: “We were called at 16.16 regarding a female in her 70s who had suffered a leg injury.
“The call was triaged as non-life threatening with a 30-minute response time.
“Unfortunately, on January 4 we experienced exceptionally heavy demand.
“On average, our call centre handles 700 calls per day. On January 4, the figure was over 1,300.
“Due to the volume of incidents where life was potentially in danger, we were unable to attend until 8.04pm.
“NEAS would like to sincerely apologise to the patient for the delay, which fell well below our normal response time.”