East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has launched an investigation after an elderly woman with a head injury was left lying in the road in Hayfield for more than two hours waiting for an ambulance.
The 88-year-old, who was travelling alone by bus from Marple to Hayfield on Saturday, fell on her back in the middle of Wood Lane at around 2.45pm.
Local residents, and a couple visiting from Hyde, immediately went to her aid, and after she complained of serious back pain and a large swelling on the back of her head, an ambulance was called at 2.53pm.
Forty minutes later, when the ambulance had still not arrived, another 999 call was made when the caller was told that no estimated time of arrival (ETA) could be given as there were other emergencies in the area.
At 3.53pm, an hour after the first call, a third 999 call was made when the call handler again said no ETA could be given. Once it was explained to them that the lady was lying in the middle of the road and traffic was having to be stopped, the call was then placed into a different category.
But, the ambulance still didn’t arrive until 5pm, when the woman was finally placed in a neck brace and on a spinal board before being transported to hospital.
Judith Bailey, who was one of the people who went to help, said: “There were probably about nine or ten of us who went to help so it was a real community effort but we just all felt absolutely helpless.
“People were saying what if this was my grandma lying in the road for two hours. Nobody left until the ambulance came which was lovely really and the lady was a very brave, plucky old lady but it was just very frustrating and upsetting.”
Judith added: “As witnesses to this accident in Hayfield and as residents of the village, we want to express our extreme concern regarding the ambulance response time in this area.
“All ten of us who are local residents and who stayed with the casualty and witnessed this incident found it all profoundly upsetting, feeling utterly helpless and desperately anxious for this brave, elderly lady.
“Just where does Hayfield lie in any emergency response? To say that it gives the entire village a deep feeling of unease is a massive understatement.”
In a statement, EMAS said: “We are sorry the lady had to wait so long for help. We are investigating to find out what happened and why, and we will share our findings with her as soon as the investigation is complete.
“EMAS is an improving service and we hit all three national performance standards for the period April – June 2014. This is the first time we have achieved this since 2010 which demonstrates the actions we have taken recently are now starting to pay dividends. We are 100 per cent committed to building on this solid platform in the months ahead.”
EMAS has consistently come under fire, and been fined millions of pounds in the past, for missing targets on response times.
And new figures released by NHS England show that ambulances serving the High Peak are taking over two minutes longer on average to reach patients in a life-threatening condition than they were three years ago - leading to claims that lives are at risk.
Category A call-outs, the most serious, should be responded to within eight minutes for 75 per cent of all calls. But figures show that the average time to treatment for in the East Midlands in May 2014 was 489 seconds, compared to 348 in May 2011 and 376 in May 2013.
Caitlin Bisknell, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for the High Peak, said: “These figures raise real concerns that lives are being put at risk by the chaos in the NHS.
“For people who’ve suffered cardiac arrest or a stroke, every second counts and that is why this slump in standards cannot continue.
“Urgent action is needed from the government to turn things around.”
EMAS said: “The method used nationally to measure response times changed between years so the figures quoted don’t compare like with like.
“The figure of 489 for May 2014 uses the new criteria and is correct. However, if the new measurement criteria was applied to the May 2013 figure, it would read 476 rather than 376. This means the change from 2013 – 2014 is 13 seconds.”