A 97-year-old disabled woman said she was left lying on the floor of her St Albans home for three hours waiting for paramedics to arrive – for the second time in under than a year.
Irene Foster fell in the living room of her home in Arundel Grove on Wednesday, June 4, at 8.15pm but it is claimed paramedics did not arrive at the scene until 11.15pm.
The ambulance trust disputed the length of the wait and explained ambulances had to be diverted to 'patients with more serious injuries'.
Ms Foster's daughter, Marion Foster, who has been caring for her mother single-handedly for more than ten years. made repeated calls to the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) control centre during the incident, only to be told more urgent calls were taking precedence.
Marion says she was unable to lift her elderly mother because she has just had an operation.
She said: “I gave her a pillow and a blanket – there wasn’t a lot I could do because I am just recovering from a lumpectomy.
“This is the second time this has happened and it isn’t good enough. They need to get their act together.
“It is absolutely disgusting.”
Mrs Foster was left lying on the floor of her New Greens cottage in October last year for two hours after an ambulance failed to turn up.
She suffers with a heart condition, Raynaud’s disease and during her lifetime has beaten breast cancer and undergone a knee replacement.
Marion is angry at the ambulance service’s call operators.
She said: “It seems because she wasn’t bleeding or seriously injured it goes to the bottom of their list. But how can they leave a frail and disabled woman like that on the floor?
“It seems the older you get, the less people care.
“They just don’t care about the elderly.
“She didn’t say it at the time but my mum’s knee was hurt when she fell over.
“I cannot fault the work of the technicians. They were absolutely brilliant with mum and got her up straight away.
“It’s the people you talk to in the office – it’s just one excuse after another. They are awful.”
After last year’s incident Marion says she wrote to the ambulance service but did not receive a response.
Ambulance service chief executive Anthony Marsh said EEAST has been working closely with Ms Foster to help her be more independent at home and prevent her from falling, which includes regular exercises.
He said an ambulance was called at 9.11pm and arrived to help at 11.26pm.
Mr Marsh continued: “We want to apologise to Irene for the delay in getting an ambulance to her.
“We dispatched an ambulance as soon as we received the call but unfortunately this was diverted to a person who had collapsed.
“Several other ambulances had to be diverted to patients with more serious injuries – one to a child with a head injury and another to a patient struggling to breathe.”
He continued: “We are recruiting hundreds of student paramedics, up-skilling our staff, increasing ambulance cover and maximising the amount of clinicians we have on the front line.
“We have had a tremendous response to our recruitment campaign with nearly 4,000 applications already.
“The first five cohorts of student paramedics, made up of 97 people, are already in training with further training courses planned throughout the year. All these actions are helping us to better support our staff and improve services to patients.”