An elderly woman was left injured on a pavement for more than three hours after an ambulance controller told her son to stop being a nuisance as he repeatedly called for help, it was claimed today. Iris Burton, 84, fell near her house in Ratby, Leicester, leaving her with a broken hip and fractured shoulder blade earlier this month.
But after the widow was left waiting for an ambulance for more than an hour, her son, Philip, a controller told him to “stop being a nuisance” when sought an update. She eventually waited three and a half hours for paramedics who then took her to Leicester Royal Infirmary, where she had an operation to mend a broken hip. Ambulance officials apologised today for the delayed response as Mr Burton threatened to make formal complaint.
The incident occurred on February 15 when Mrs Burton fell while walking home just before 6pm. Being unable to move, she cried for out help for about 10 minutes in the dark before a local woman came to her aid. Paramedics were called as well as Mr Burton. Mr Burton arrived shortly after to find his mother in agony but NHS Direct officers told him she should not be moved. Mr Burton tried to make his mother comfortable and to keep her warm with hot water bottles and duvets from her house. When an ambulance had still not arrived by about 7pm, Mr Burton called himself.
He said: "I was told there wasn't an ambulance available and when I asked when one would be with us and where it was coming from, I was told to stop being a nuisance.” "It was still awful for her. The cold was coming up from underneath on the pavement where she was lying and she was in agony." An ambulance finally arrived at about 9.30pm. He is now making a formal complaint to the East Midlands Ambulance Service (Emas) about the delay.
Mr Burton added: "The ambulance men were fantastic. They were brilliant, but I am going to make a formal complaint about the time it took to get an ambulance to my mother. "She is doing all right at the moment. She had an operation on her hip on Saturday morning and her shoulder is in a sling, there is nothing more that can be done for that."
Today, Karlie Thompson, divisional director for Emas South (Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire) admitted that officials had failed in their care and apologised. "It is clear we did not get to Mrs Burton fast enough,” she said. "While Mrs Burton's injuries were not immediately life-threatening, I do appreciate the pain and distress she will have experienced.
"I regret the delay in our response and offer our apologies.” She added: "We were busy responding to calls including high demand for people reported to be in a life-threatening condition and providing transport for hospital patients who required life-saving treatment at a different centre." The call had been categorised as "green 1" which meant an ambulance should have been with the patient in 20 minutes, she added. The operator has not been named.