Pensioner’s anger at response to 999 call
A PENSIONER has reacted angrily after being told she would have to wait for an ambulance as her husband screamed in agony with a broken hip.
Ann Skilton (72) of Saxby Gardens, Welland, was so angered after being told to wait for an assessor to call her back after her husband Tony (75) fell on the stairs, that she took matters into her own hands and drove him to hospital – but only after neighbours helped to carry him to her car.
Mrs Skilton says she was told to wait because four or five people were ahead of her in a queue and that the operator did not know how long this would take.
The East of England Ambulance Service has said that, with hindsight, had the operator been told a patient had a suspected fractured hip, it would have prompted an immediate ambulance response.
As it was, Mrs Skilton’s call was classified as a “call-back” incident because it didn’t sound life-threatening.
Mrs Skilton said that had it not been for the helpfulness of her neighbours, there could have been serious consequences for her husband, who also has arthritis, bladder cancer and has previously suffered a stroke.
Mrs Skilton, who has four children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren, said: “The bottom line is that someone could die next time.
“I was telling the operator that my husband was screaming in agony.
“Anyone would realise this was serious and I don’t think it’s right to assess someone over the phone anyway, that should be done in person.
“I’m not having a go at the paramedics but rather the individual who answered this call, surely common sense should prevail in these situations?”
Recalling the incident, she said: “I heard my husband fall going up the stairs and I heard a crack as he landed.
“He was screaming in pain and shivering.
“I called for an ambulance and told the operator that I thought my husband had seriously injured his back or his knee.
“I was told I would have to wait for a nurse to assess him over the phone as four or five people were ahead of me in a queue but the operator didn’t know how long this would take. For all I knew I could have been waiting all day and I simply had to act.”
Mrs Skilton’s neighbours Doreen Wilson and her two sons Adrian and Carl helped to carry Mr Skilton into his car and Mrs Skilton drove him to Peterborough City Hospital.
He is currently recovering there after undergoing a hip operation and should be allowed home next week.
A spokeswoman for the ambulance service said: “If the caller had told us the patient had a broken hip the call would have been treated as a top priority response.
“In hindsight we would have sent an ambulance, but the information we were given indicated a lesser injury.
“Based on all the information given by the caller, that her husband had tripped up the first step of the stairs 45 minutes to an hour previously and hurt his knee but was standing, fully alert and breathing fine, the incident was correctly assigned a callback for further assessment from a nurse to ensure the correct response so that life-threatened patients could be given the priority they need.
“When the call-back process was being explained to her however the caller said she would take her husband to A&E herself.”
It is the third time in the last two months that the ET has reported a complaint after a patient had to wait for an ambulance or call-back. Special May Deals direct from Cambridge Airport
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FURIOUS: Tony Skilton was told to wait for a call from a nurse after breaking his hip.