A WEARSIDE youngster’s three-hour wait in agony for an ambulance has been discussed in the House of Commons.
Kiera O’Brien, six, was left screaming in pain after a fall from a bouncy castle and because of the potential risk of a broken back, she couldn’t be moved.
This week Andy Burnham, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, highlighted the case as part of a debate about cuts to the NHS and the pressures hospitals and ambulance services are being put under.
He said: “It is not just A&Es that are under pressure; there is a knock-on effect on ambulance services.
“Reports are now surfacing of serious failures in patient care.
“Last month, a six-year-old girl from Sunderland was left with a suspected broken back for three hours despite five 999 calls.”
Kiera’s mum, Karen Robinson, 38, said she is pleased the issues are being addressed.
The youngster was at a family birthday party last month at the Holy Rosary church in Arbroath Road, Sunderland, when the accident happened.
Her frantic family dialled 999 at about 2.15pm, thinking an ambulance would arrive shortly, but five more phone calls and almost three hours later, the paramedics finally turned up.
Karen, who lives in Telford Road, said: “It was quite a shock to hear it has been talked about in parliament, but I am glad it has.
“The more people talk about these incidents, the more likely something will be done.
“At the end of the day it was just bruising and Kiera was fine, although she was off school for a week, but it could have been much worse.
“If she had broken her back or done worse damage, those three hours would have been crucial.”
She said Kiera, a pupil at Hastings Hill Academy, is now frightened about having another accident in case the ambulance doesn’t come.
Karen said: “She doesn’t really understand the concept of three hours, but she knows she was there a lying on the floor in pain for a long time.”
The mum said she has always stated that the paramedics were brilliant when they arrived and it is the cuts that need to be addressed.
Paul Liversidge, chief operating officer for North East Ambulance Service, said his team manage to respond to emergencies on average in six minutes – lower then the national target of eight – despite increasing pressure.
He said: “While average ambulance response times have increased over the last three years, so too has the volume of calls we receive.
“We are experiencing almost 10 per cent more calls than this time last year and demand for the service continues to grow.
“As an emergency service, we prioritise the most serious, life-threatening cases first.
“That means that whilst emergency responses to potentially life-threatening services are being maintained, in the current climate performance times to attend less serious incidents are deteriorating.
“This is not a position we want to be in and we have already put in place a number of initiatives to tackle the issues.
“We continue to work with our commissioners and the wider NHS to provide the best care possible to patients.”