Fenland family left waiting for ambulance after crash were not warned it could take two hours to arrive
A Fenland family has criticised the area’s ambulance service after they were left waiting over two hours for a crew to arrive before deciding to head to A&E themselves.
However, the East of England Ambulance Service said they followed national guidelines and it is acceptable for people with a lower priority to wait longer for help than those suffering a life-threatening illness or injury.
The family, two brothers and their 84-year-old mother from Manea, were travelling along the A142 when their car was involved in a collision with another vehicle on the Mepal Bridge on the A142.
Their car was being driven by a man in his fifties and his mother was a front seat passenger, and his older brother was in the back seat, when it rear ended the other car which had stopped.
After the impact the woman, who does not want to be named, was left unresponsive and not breathing properly so the brothers called 999 for an ambulance.
The older brother said: “It was quite worrying for a few minutes. Mum was totally unresponsive and wasn’t breathing properly. We called 999 and they were asking loads of questions, the longer the conversation went on the more Mum’s condition started to improve and she started to come round.
“She had clearly been badly winded by the crash, and she was complaining of pain in her chest, she thought she might have cracked some of her ribs. The conversation with the 999 person ended with them saying the police and ambulance were on their way.
“It took 45 minutes for the police to arrive, and after they had taken all the details and checked on everyone they told us it was going to take several hours for an ambulance to get to us and suggested we would be better to make our own way to hospital to get Mum checked out.
“The police then contacted the ambulance people to cancel the ambulance. The man in the other car was also suffering back pain and so he also decided to go to hospital himself.
“By the time the ambulance was cancelled we had already been waiting two hours in the cold on the side of the road and my Mum was getting upset.
"We understand that people with life-threatening injuries should come first, but when they tell you an ambulance is on the way, you expect it to arrive quite quickly. It would be better if they simply told us straight away that we might have a long wait, and we would have arranged to get mum to hospital ourselves without having the stress of waiting.”
She went to Hinchingbrooke Hospital where she was given painkillers and a chest x-ray which fortunately showed she had no broken ribs, but was just badly bruised.
A spokesman for East of England Ambulance Service said the call had been logged as a C3 priority, which is the second to lowest, and means the patients can make their own way to receive medical attention.
However, this was not relayed to the patients, who were expecting an ambulance to arrive promptly after the call was made.
The spokesman said: “We were called at 3.32pm yesterday with reports of a collision on the A142, Mepal.
“Following this we alerted the police and gave the two patients advice on what to do if their condition worsened.
“This was marked as a C3 call, where patients may also be treated in their own home or referred to a different pathway of care. These calls will be responded to at least nine out of ten times within 120 minutes.
“We sent several ambulances, the first within eight minutes, however these were diverted to higher priority calls for people in a life-threatening condition. At 5.41pm police called us to cancel the ambulance because two people were making their own way to hospital.
“We apologise for any distress the patients may have experienced while waiting for an ambulance.”
The spokesman added: “We do not inform patients how long it will take an ambulance to arrive because this is determined by a number of other factors, such as the severity of injuries and having to prioritise others who are in life-threatening situations.
“This is the same as all other emergency services.”
More by this authorSarah Cliss