Ipswich: Why was elderly man who collapsed in town centre left waiting an hour for an ambulance?

AN elderly man was forced to wait more than an HOUR with blood pouring from his head before an ambulance arrived in Ipswich town centre.

Lying at the foot of the steps to the town hall on the Cornhill, the man was left in the care of street rangers and police officers for one hour and six minutes.

The pensioner, believed to be 82, was walking up the steps when he fell and hit his head at around 12.30pm yesterday.

One witness said a police officer had to hold an umbrella over him during a brief shower as they waited for medics to arrive.

Outraged members of the public told The Star too many ambulance chiefs and not enough frontline staff was heaping pressure on dedicated paramedics.

A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Trust said they were called at 12.29pm and an ambulance arrived on scene at 1.35pm. She admitted the trust had failed to hit the 30-minute target for attending an incident of that nature.

The spokeswoman said it had been a very busy time for the service. “The patient had a head injury but was fully conscious and breathing normally, so the call would be subject to a half-an-hour response time,” the spokeswoman said.

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James McIntyre Messenger, who witnessed the incident, said he was appalled at the time it took for the ambulance to reach the man.

“He was waiting well over an hour, it must have been an hour and a quarter I reckon,” he said. “He was lying on the floor, there was a lot of blood.

“One chap said the first responder had to come from Essex. It is too long to wait, it is a disgrace. People who work for the service must be under terrible pressure.”

Another concerned bystander, who asked not to be named, added: “It is just cut, cut, cut. They can’t keep going like this. The first responder only arrived about ten minutes before the ambulance. He was waiting there for ages, poor old boy.”

The ambulance spokeswoman added: “Unfortunately this was an extremely busy period for the service with an unusually high number of calls throughout the day and a higher than average number of ambulances facing long hospital hand-over times.

“We would encourage the patient to contact us directly so we can explain the situation to him.”

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 e-mail lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk