A MAN has slammed ambulance chiefs after he claimed his 88-year-old mother-in-law had to wait more than five hours for paramedics to turn up after she fell and broke her leg.
Jennie Vasey was saying with her daughter Helen and son-in-law Mike at their Seaton Lane home, in Seaham, over the Christmas period.
At midday on Sunday, December 28, Jennie and Helen were about to venture out when Jennie slipped on a step, breaking her femur while also damaging her shoulder.
Despite making more than 10 emergency calls, the first of which at they claim they made at 2.17pm, the family say they had to wait until just after 7.45pm for an ambulance crew to turn up, with Jennie eventually having to go into intensive care.
The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) however say that paramedics turned up three-and-a-half hours after being contacted, although they have still apologised for the length of time it took to treat Mrs Vasey.
Son-in-law Mike Horn told the Echo: “It’s disgusting and people should be made aware that this type of thing is happening.
“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?”
Following the incident, Mike rang for help expecting paramedics to turn up quickly.
“She had her hip replaced two years ago and she has breathing difficulties as well,” said Mike, 50.
“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.”
After finally being transported to hospital in Durham, Jennie, who lives in Chester-le-Street, then developed blood clots on her lungs and had to be admitted to intensive care on a life-support machine for four days, something which her family say would’ve been avoided had she been seen to earlier.
Mike added: “At one point she was barely breathing and I was told on the phone to administer CPR.
“I was upstairs shouted down to my wife, who was frantic, and because of the poor phone signal in our house the call dropped out.
“They didn’t even call back to see what had happened.
“Once she developed the blood clots I was told by one of the consultants that that wouldn’t have happened had she been brought in quicker.
Jennie remains in hospital but is now off the critical list.
“She’s out of intensive care and on a ward now,” added Mike, who runs a clothes manufacturing business with his wife.
“She’s frail but getting there.
“What makes it even worse is when she broke her hip two years ago she had to wait seven hours for an ambulance.
“So in her 88 years on Earth she’s needed the ambulance twice and she’s had to wait seven hours the first time and nearly six hours the second.”
A spokeswoman for the NEAS said: “We are sorry that we couldn’t reach the patient any quicker. As most people will be aware, the NHS as a whole nationally has been under immense pressure during the Christmas period, which has meant that some ambulance response times to non-emergencies have been affected. The incident was classified as none life-threatening based on the symptoms provided. Due to the high volume of Red emergency calls - which have a target response time of eight minutes - a crew was not available to attend until 5.47pm.
“It would not be appropriate for us to comment on individual patients, particularly on their care once they have arrived at hospital.”