Because local call handlers were too busy, a pensioner was left waiting on the ground in pain for five hours before being taken to an ambulance.
Leon Moody, 72, said he has ‘lost faith in the health service’ after he fell in his home in Kingham, Oxfordshire, at around 9am on October 5.
His carer immediately called for an ambulance and Mr Moody’s son Mark, 35, from nearby Chipping Norton, rushed over to the home.
After waiting for an ambulance to arrive, Mark called 999 again to verify the location of the vehicle.
It took five minutes for his call be answered. The call handler informed him that he was being transferred to the Yorkshire branch over 200 miles away because local handlers were overwhelmed by calls.
The ambulance eventually arrived after 2pm, Mr Moody said — more than five hours after the original call.
This comes amid a growing ambulance crisis in Britain. According to NHS data, severely ill patients are being forced to wait longer than 12 hours in the ambulances after being picked up.
Paramedics have warned six-hour waits for ambulances could become ‘commonplace’ this winter.
The College of Paramedics claimed ambulances have been forced to wait outside of hospitals because of packed A&E wards, and warned that the problems will only get larger as winter demand picks up.
Leon Moody, 72 years old, stated that he had ‘lost faith’ in the health system after falling in his Kingham, Oxfordshire home. He was forced to wait over five hours for an ambulance.
Mark, Mark’s son, says he was placed through to Yorkshire call handlers due to the busyness of the local health system.
The problems seem to have started already in Mr Moody’s instance, whose son stated that he was ‘gobsmacked” by the long wait.
The Oxfordshire Mail reported that he said: “After an hour, we hadn’t heard anything and nobody had arrived.”
“Obviously, my dad was in a lot more pain than usual and was distraught from having to lie on the ground like this. I called 999 and it kept ringing and repeating. It went on for three minutes.
“I was able to reach someone and explain to them that my dad had fallen. The call handler was getting the details up and he said: “You are in the south-east aren’t you?”.’
He claimed that the call operator told him Yorkshire was his closest call centre because all the other local services were too busy.
Mr Moody claimed he could not believe how poor the service was, and was too scared of moving his father in case it made matters worse.
After waiting for over an hour, he was transferred to another operator who was’really sorry’.
Hours later, the ambulance finally arrived. Mr Moody stated that the paramedics were exemplary.
He said that he thought about what would have happened if his father’s fall had been more serious, and that he was left stranded.
He said, ‘I was just sitting there pondering, what if my Dad was having heart attacks or something really serious?
“Those minutes they took to answer the question would have made all of the difference between life and death.” It was unlike anything I have ever seen.
He said that his father is doing okay after his experience, but he wants “people to pay attention to what is happening” and for his “voice to be heard”.
South Central Ambulance Service covers the counties of Berkshire Buckinghamshire Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire. We have been contacted for comment.
On Saturday it said it has been ‘overwhelmed’ with calls, blaming GP waiting-list backlogs, ambulance queues at hospitals for its slow services.
The College of Paramedics last month warned the UK faces a ‘bleak’ few months amid reports of increasing waits for A&E care. People who suffer from strokes or heart attacks will likely be the most severely affected.
The delays in reaching patients at hospitals across the country can be as long as four to six hours. There are also increasing numbers of ambulances awaiting outside hospitals and a backlog for 999 calls.
Richard Webber is a paramedic who also serves as a spokesperson for the college. He said that this issue has been problematic for a while because hospitals have been so busy.
‘Patients are being admitted and what’s happening is they cannot move them straight into A&E, so ambulances have become cabs waiting to unload outside hospitals.
“Our members report delays of four to six hour in getting to people. This means that there could be up to 15 ambulances outside hospitals with patients inside.
This also creates a backlog that can reach 999 calls. I’m talking about 300 calls to a service. This leaves people waiting at their homes, potentially in dire need of medical attention.
“Everything is taking longer. Staff are dealing with three to four incidents per shift, when they normally deal with eight.”