Pensioner left for six hours with broken leg in freezing conditions after fall

Mike Horn with his letter from the North East Ambulance service
Mike Horn with his letter from the North East Ambulance service
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AMBULANCE chiefs have admitted that a pensioner DID wait almost six hours for a paramedic to arrive when she fell in freezing conditions and broke her leg.

Jennie Vasey’s family were outraged when the 88-year-old was left to wait in agony following the fall outside her daughter’s home in Seaham just after Christmas.

Son-in-law Mike Horn contacted the Echo about the incident, but at the time the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) claimed the pensioner had waited just three-and-a-half hours for a paramedic.

Now Mike and his wife, Helen, have received a letter of apology from NEAS which confirmed an ambulance reached the pensioner in five hours and 46 minutes.

Mike, 50, who runs his own clothing company, said he is still furious that it took so long, but pleased the service has acknowledged he was telling the truth.

He said: “I knew it was almost six hours, but they denied it in the paper.

“Now they have admitted it, I would like people to know I was not making it up or exaggerating.”

Mike said the fall and the length of time Jenny had to wait almost cost her life when she ended up in intensive care with blood clots on her lungs.

The elderly woman, who lives in Chester-le-Street was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham on December 28 and was only discharged three weeks ago.

He said: “It has been a dreadful time, this almost killed her.”

But, he said Jenny is a fighter and is battling her way back to full health following her ordeal.

The pensioner fell when she slipped on the step as she and Helen were about to go out, breaking her femur and damaging her shoulder.

Despite making more than 10 emergency calls and expecting the paramedics to turn up straight away, it was almost six hours before Jenny, who had previously had a hip replacement and suffers breathing difficulties, got any medical care.

Mike said: “The call handler says it took so long because it wasn’t a priority call but if an 88-year-old woman lying in agony with a broken leg isn’t an emergency then what is?

“Her leg was snapped in half. We could see the bone coming through the skin, it was that bad.

“Her breathing got worse and by the time she finally got treated she’d been bleeding for six hours.”

Mike said he knew not to move her because of the risk of severing the femoral artery, but it soon became clear he had no choice. He said: “It was a really awful decision to make, but it was freezing and I couldn’t just leave her lying in the cold.”

At one point Jenny was barely breathing and Mike was told over the phone to administer CPR.

When the pensioner finally arrived at hospital she was on a life support machine for four days.

The NEAS initially said the whole NHS was under immense pressure during the Christmas period, which meant some ambulance response times to non-emergencies were affected.

A spokeswoman for the service said today: “We have been in touch with Mrs Vasey’s family and have provided them with an explanation. We have nothing further to add to this.”