Woman, 85, in agony after seven-hour wait for ambulance

PUBLISHED: 06:55 16 May 2019

Mary Nicoll who was left waiting almost seven hours for an ambulance.

Mary Nicoll who was left waiting almost seven hours for an ambulance.


An 85-year-old woman was left ‘in agony’ as she waited almost seven hours for an ambulance after falling and breaking her collar bone.

Mary Nicoll broke her collar bone when she fell at her home.Mary Nicoll broke her collar bone when she fell at her home.

Mary Nicoll pressed her Carelink emergency button after falling down at her Weston home on April 9.

Staff called for an ambulance at 9.30pm - but it did not arrive until 4.30am the next day.

Carelink staff called Mary's daughter, Jennifer Nicoll, who rushed to her mum's side and also had to care for her dad, who suffers from Alzheimer's and was severely distressed by the incident.

Jennifer said: "She was on the floor for at least an hour before an ambulance was called.

Mary Nicoll who was left waiting almost seven hours for an ambulance.Mary Nicoll who was left waiting almost seven hours for an ambulance.

"She tried to get my dad to get help, but he was banging on the front door and didn't know what to do.

"It was the most horrific seven hours of our lives.

"Mum was really sleepy, and I had to keep checking she was breathing. She was just in agony.

"I also had to assist my dad, who was really distressed because of his condition.

"She was on the floor for eight-and-a-half hours and then got three paramedics at once.

"I don't understand why they didn't send a first responder within a couple of hours to give her some pain relief."

When the ambulance arrived, Mary was taken to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, as Weston's A&E is closed overnight.

Jennifer said: "Mum's now been moved to a nursing home because she's still unable to walk.

"My dad has had a severe reaction and he's been admitted to hospital for observation.

I'm just so angry. Mum was so independent and now this has happened.

"If the A&E in Weston had stayed open, the agonising and shocking hours could have been avoided or at least minimised.

"Ambulances now have time-consuming and costly journeys to Bristol and Taunton hospitals which is putting people's lives at risk."

A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: "We are very sorry that we were unable to reach this patient sooner.

"There was considered to be no immediate threat to life. Unfortunately, at the time of this call, demand was high in the Weston area, and we were attending numerous other patients in more serious and life-threatening conditions."

"These included patients who were struggling to breathe, a patient having a fit, and a patient with sepsis.

"Managing the demand on the ambulance service across the South West can be very challenging, due to the finite resources we have.

"While we will always try to reach our patients in a timely manner, we must prioritise time-critical and life-threatening incidents.

We would not wish for any patient to experience a long wait, and we continue to work exceptionally hard to deliver the highest quality response for patients."

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