A great-grandmother who broke her hip was taken to hospital on a dustbin lid because she was “ineligible” for an ambulance.
Pamela Rolfe, 79, was walking with her doge in a park on December 29 when she fell and passers-by helped her to keep warm by throwing a duvet at her.
But after the weather changed, ambulance staff told daughter Dawn Hamilton that she “does not qualify for an ambulance at the moment due to the current crisis” in Johnstown, Wrexham in Wales.
Dawn said: “One of the first rules is don’t move someone. A man at the park said someone recently died on the ground while waiting for an ambulance.
As the rain and blustery winds picked up, Dawn, her partner and a neighbor desperately searched for ways to support the great-grandfather of two.
“My partner had rented a white van, we were looking for an ironing board to support my mom’s leg,” Dawn said.
“A neighbor tore the lid off a grit container and placed it under my mother.
“We drove to where the ambulances were in the emergency room and a paramedic who is also a neighbor helped put them on a trolley.
“She came through straight away and had surgery the next day. I couldn’t believe A&E, there were lines out the door.
“We were told someone was in an ambulance for 24 hours.
“If my mother had gotten into an ambulance, she would have been stuck in front of the emergency room, she could be dead.”
Dawn thanked the “fantastic” nurses and paramedics at Wrexham Maelor Hospital who helped Pamela – but the experience of seeing the NHS creak under the pressure was hard not to take home.
“In the bed across the street was a 93-year-old woman, her son said she fell into her house and broke her hip, they stopped counting after waiting 33 hours for an ambulance,” she said.
“There are surgeries in Wrexham that tell people, ‘Go to the emergency room.’ I keep telling her “you don’t even realize how lucky you were”.
“Just because we had the van, it was a godsend that we had a van. The hospital staff was very nice but they are in a hurry.”
Stephen Sheldon, North Wales manager for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We are deeply sorry to hear of Ms Rolfe’s experience and know how distressing it will have been for her and those around her as they awaited our assistance.
“Unfortunately, her experience is not unique and while that does not alleviate Ms Rolfe’s plight, it is symptomatic of the pressures faced by all elements of the health and care service in Wales – and across the UK.”
Sheldon said it is now “unusual” to see three in 10 ambulance crews stuck outside hospitals waiting to hand patients over.
“That means they can’t come to patients in the community like Ms. Rolfe, resulting in very long waits for us to arrive,” he said.
“This is not the level of service we aim to provide and we are working hard to improve things urgently.”
Ambulance wait times – from time to arrival to drop-off – have reached unprecedented heights.
Countless incidents have drawn attention to the stacking issues faced by responders.
A 93-year-old left “screaming in pain” on the floor of a care home after waiting 25 hours. A mother of four with cystic fibrosis who died after waiting 11 hours.
The delays are part of a broader collapse of the NHS, with soaring demand, a shortage of emergency beds, staff shortages, worse working conditions and a lack of funding to expand the service.
Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, a membership organization representing the healthcare sector, said this cannot go on.
“The reality is that there is no silver bullet here,” he said yesterday.
“This crisis has unfolded over a decade or more, and we are now paying the heavy price of years of inaction and controlled decline.”
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https://metro.co.uk/2023/01/07/wales-great-gran-rushed-to-hospital-on-bin-lid-in-back-of-van-18056713/ Wales: Great-grandmother rushed to hospital on bin lid behind van