A SOUTH Shields woman says she is “disgusted” that her 80-year-old sister was left waiting 45 minutes for an ambulance after breaking her hip.
Thora Carney was getting off the bus near her home in Marsden Road, when she fell and suffered the break at 5.10pm on Thursday.
The bus driver called an ambulance for her, and a fast response car from The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) arrived in minutes.
But, after the paramedic decided she needed hospital treatment, an ambulance took 45 minutes to arrive. The NEAS says the call was not categorised as an emergency and therefore had no target response time, and stressed that Mrs Carney did have a paramedic with her.
Mrs Carney’s sister, Joan Coulter, of Nevinson Avenue, Whiteleas, South Shields, said: “She stepped off the bus, and the next thing she was on the ground.
“The paramedic came very quickly, and said she needed an ambulance but it took 45 minutes to turn up.
“The paramedic even rang three times to see where it was, and was told every time that it would only be five minutes.
“Our sister, Maureen, lives next door to Thora, so came over to sit with her. She was sitting in the bus shelter freezing with one of those foil blankets wrapped round her until the ambulance arrived.”
Mrs Coulter, 73, added: “She’s 81 next month and not in the best of health to begin with.
“They managed to put her on a plastic seat in the bus shelter but it was freezing and she was in pain.
“No one should have to wait that long for an ambulance, not at any age.
“She was in hospital last year with chest problems so the last thing she needs is to be out in the cold for that long.
“I’m disgusted. It’s bad enough if someone falls at home, but it’s even worse when you’re out in the cold.”
Mrs Carney was operated on at South Tyneside District Hospital yesterday afternoon.
A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service said: “Green calls such as this one are not life-threatening, and have no national target response time.
“We try to attend within 30 minutes but, if our ambulances are busy attending Red incidents – such as cardiac arrests or serious trauma – then patients in non-critical situations may face a delay.
“Our rapid response vehicle was quickly on the scene, and the paramedic stayed with the lady until the ambulance arrived.
“NEAS is the highest-performing ambulance service in England and Wales for attending Red calls within eight minutes.”
The spokesman said: “The national target is 75 per cent – we are achieving just under 80 per cent.”