Ipswich: ”It’s a disgrace” - footballer’s agonising 72-minute wait for an ambulance

IPSWICH/FELIXSTOWE: Lying in agony with a broken leg, a football player waited more than an HOUR for an ambulance to reach him as he lay hurt just half-a-mile from Ipswich Hospital.

Playing his debut for Felixstowe and Walton Utd on Wednesday, Tommy Childs’ appearance for his new club lasted just 25 minutes before he had to be carried off after colliding with another player.

His furious coach today told The Star it would have been quicker to carry the forward to the Heath Road trust from Ipswich Wanderers’ ground in Humber Doucy Lane, rather than wait for the ambulance which was diverted from Clacton in Essex.

A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) today offered to speak to Mr Childs about the incident, claiming long hospital hand-over times caused the hold up.

Branding the wait “a disgrace”, reserve team manager Rick Ward said Mr Childs is currently recovering at home after an operation to put metal plates from his knee to ankle.

He said doctors confirmed he broke his tibia in the incident – the bone at the front of the lower leg.

“It was about 8.10pm when the tackle happened,” he said. “There was nothing nasty about it, just two players committed and our player came off worse.

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“They just clashed legs and Tommy was caught just above the shin pad.

“He was in absolute agony.

“He is quite a tough chap but he was in tears. It was freezing cold and we couldn’t move him – we didn’t know what damage had been done.

“We covered him in coats and blankets.”

He said the ambulance still hadn’t arrived by the end of the game.

Mr Ward said: “What do we pay our National Insurance and taxes for?

“When someone who works full time is lying there injured and has to wait like that for an ambulance it is a disgrace.

“To be honest whenever you hear about someone with a football injury they always have to wait.

“I understand that there could have been someone with life-threatening injuries who should get priority but it was ridiculous.

“It is not good enough.”

Mr Childs, 27, from Trimley St Martin, said he remembers very little after the tackle.

“I was in agony,” he said.

“All I can remember is the tackle and then it’s a bit of a blur.

“After it happened I just realised I couldn’t get up and shuffled to the side.

“I am really grateful to my team-mates helping me out.”

The self-employed sports coach said he is likely to be off the football pitch for the next three to four months.

An ambulance spokeswoman told The Star they were called at 8.27pm and the ambulance crew arrived on scene at 9.39pm, according to their logs.

The spokeswoman said the call was initially graded as requiring an hour response time but was upgraded to a half-hour response at 8.40pm by a support desk nurse.

“Regretfully this response did not meet our usual standards,” she said.

“This was an unusually busy time with a much higher than average number of our ambulances also facing long hospital hand-over times.

“We are however in the process of revising rotas to help get to patients quicker by better matching resources to demand, putting crews in places and at times when patients need them the most.

“We would be happy to talk to this patient about the incident if he would like to contact us and we wish him a full recovery.”

Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman Jan Ingle said: “We want to make sure any ambulance that comes to Ipswich Hospital is back on the road as quickly as possible.

“We are working with EAAST to make sure that happens. It is a joint project involving both trusts.”

n Tell us your experiences of the ambulance service. Write to health reporter Lizzie Parry at Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can send an e-mail to lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk

n Opinion – page 6