Ambulance wait times 'absolutely disgusting' says worried daughter

Bernard Turner, 84, who lives in Ipswich had to wait 12 hours for an ambulance

Bernard Turner, 84, who lives in Ipswich had to wait 12 hours for an ambulance - Credit: Archant/Dawn Cooper

An 84-year-old Suffolk man was left waiting 12 hours for an ambulance after falling at home while those suffering from more serious ailments are waiting nearly an hour, figures have revealed.

Paramedics should arrive at Category 2 calls - including those to patients with suffering from suspected heart attacks - within 18 minutes but in November the average response time for the East of England Ambulance Service was 51 minutes.

Last night the service apologised to patients, saying they are under "sustained pressure".

The East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "We are currently experiencing some of the most significant and sustained pressures in recent years and are really sorry to those patients having to wait longer than we would like as we prioritise urgent and life-saving care.

“We can reassure all of our patients that the NHS remains open for business and it is vitally important that if people are in a serious medical emergency that they call 999."

'She passed away before the ambulance got to her' 

Families of patients who have been left waiting in recent weeks have told of their anger over the delays.

Most Read

Responding to a Facebook post on our page, Nickilou Crookse said: "My mum had to wait nearly two hours for an ambulance and she couldn't breathe.

"My poor husband was giving her CPR, she passed away before the ambulance got to her."


Dawn Cooper with her father Bernard Turner.

Dawn Cooper with her father Bernard Turner. Mr Turner had to wait 12 hour for an ambulance in Ipswich last Wednesday - Credit: Dawn Cooper

'Absolutely disgusting'

Bernard Turner, 84, waited 12 hours for an ambulance after taking a fall and becoming disorientated at his home in Ipswich last week, he remains in hospital with his daughter saying he still "very poorly".

Dawn Cooper said her father was "very confused" after the incident and described the wait for the ambulance as "absolutely disgusting".

She added: "I sat with him until 4.30am hoping it (the ambulance) would come before I had to leave to get home for my children as my husband would be leaving for work. 

"I told the lady on the switchboard Dad's key code so the ambulance crew could get in but she never passed it on so it took over half an hour for my Dad to let the ambulance crew in." 

East of England Ambulance Service

The East of England Ambulance service said they are currently experiencing some of the most significant and sustained pressures in recent years - Credit: Archant

Rosemary Chatfield said: "I had to call an ambulance for my Dad last Tuesday, I phoned at 1pm, the ambulance eventually arrived at 10.30am on the Wednesday morning."

A care home worker also posted: "One of the ladies I look after had to wait for three hours she had a severe head injury, unfortunately she passed away a day after." 

'It breaks our hearts to see patients being treated this way'

One of the major issues is the delay in handover when ambulances reach the hospital, and an experienced NHS accident and emergency nurse, currently working in Suffolk, said: "The problems are caused by years and years of government underfunding and a catastrophic handling of the pandemic by this government and this needs to be acknowledged." 

The nurse, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she contacted her local MP in November outlining the unsustainable pressure the hospital was under and requested the MP contact Sajid Javid, which they did. 

She said: "This has achieved nothing and the pressure has increased phenomenally.

"Hospitals in Suffolk are not alone in experiencing capacity and staffing problems resulting in delays off loading ambulances."

She added: "As caring professionals it breaks our hearts to see patients being treated this way, no wonder so many have had enough and are leaving. " 

'The ambulance crew arrived within 10 minutes'

Some patients have praised the service, saying they arrived well within the target time.

Keith Carter from Martlesham has thanked the ambulance service in Suffolk after he said he was initially scared to call 999 while suffering from vomiting and chest pain on November, 13. 

He said: "When the controller said they might be up to an hour I did panic but was very relived when the ambulance crew arrived within 10 minutes."

Mr Carter, who had suffered a heart attack, said: "From that moment on I was treated with true professionalism, reassurance and extreme kindness." 


Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter