HEALTH bosses have apologised after a pensioner waited two hours for an ambulance in a South Tyneside street.
Margaret Cassidy fell near South Shields Metro Station, off King Street, last Tuesday, at about 5pm.
The 67-year-old said she had started to suffer from the early stages of hypothermia before an ambulance arrived to take her to South Tyneside District Hospital.
Mrs Cassidy remained in hospital until Thursday evening, when she was discharged with torn leg ligaments and bruising.
She said: “I just fell over underneath the bridge – I went flying – then three chaps came and picked me up.
“Two hours went by before an ambulance came. I was freezing, then when I finally got in the ambulance they took my temperature and said it was low.
“I’d been there that long I’d started to get hypothermia.”
Mrs Cassidy, of Waverdale Way, Tyne Dock, South Shields, still has the bruises from her ordeal.
She added: “I’m not normally one to complain about things, but having to wait for two hours in the freezing cold is terrible, it was such a long time.”
A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) said: “We are sorry that on this occasion we were unable to reach the patient within a time we would normally like to achieve.
“As a 999 emergency service, our crews are always prioritised to patients who are in potentially life-threatening situations.
“This can mean at busy times that patients with less serious ailments may face a delay until a crew is available.”
It’s not the first time this year the NEAS has been criticised for elderly patients having lengthy waits.
Last week, a 79-year-old woman was forced to wait for 45 minutes after falling in Chapter Row, South Shields.
In May, 105-year-old Marion Beaton, one of the borough’s oldest residents, fell down in her flat at Durham Court, Hebburn, during the night and was not discovered until the next morning.
She then had to wait for more than two-and-a-half hours while eight ambulances coming to her aid were diverted to other emergency calls.
In February, Thora Carney, 80, had to wait 45 minutes after falling from a bus in Marsden Road, South Shields, breaking her hip.