THE family of a pensioner left lying on a floor with a fractured back for five hours have blasted ambulance chiefs.
Margaret Wilson, 80, was found by her distraught family on the floor of her flat, within Huntcliffe House, in Gerald Street, South Shields, at 10.30am on Saturday.
The grandmother and mum-of-four had fallen an hour earlier and feared she had broken her back.
On finding her, an ambulance was called – but it was almost five hours later that a crew turned up to take Mrs Wilson to South Tyneside District Hospital.
X-rays at the hospital revealed Mrs Wilson had fractured her spine in the fall, and she is still receiving treatment at the hospital, in Harton Lane.
Ambulance bosses have apologised for the “upsetting” delay, but her son Andy says he was “disgusted” by the delay. Mr Wilson said: “As soon as my mum was found, an ambulance was called for.
“I think we both thought the ambulance would come straight away.
“When I heard nothing I rang my sister who said the ambulance hadn’t turned up.
“She rang them a number of times and told them her condition was getting worse but it wasn’t until 3.20pm that a St John’s Ambulance turned up.
“And all that time my mam had been lying on the floor in agony and desperate for the toilet.
“No one wants to see someone they love in pain but we were just helpless. There was nothing we could do to make things better for her.
“Even if they had sent a paramedic on one of the bikes to come and see her, at least it would have been something, but there was nothing.
“My mam is an 80-year-old woman who is very frail and on medication and had been left to lie on a floor for five hours in agony.
“We weren’t angry at the medics who arrived. They told us they had been given this call when they came on shift at 3pm, it’s the whole process we are angry at.
“Ringing 999 then getting an ambulance five hours later, it’s absolutely crazy, it’s just really bad.”
A spokeswoman for North East Ambulance Service said: “We are sorry that this patient experienced a longer than normal delay, which we understand must have been upsetting for herself and her family.
“At times of heavy demand, our resources must concentrate on the most serious, life-threatening cases, meaning that our response to some other patients is longer than we would like.
“Like all ambulance services, we use other organisations, like St John Ambulance, to help out at times of heavy demand such as this.
“All St John crew are qualified to national ambulance technician standard and are only dispatched to suitable cases.”