AN elderly dementia sufferer was left to lie in agony with a broken hip while it took an ambulance nearly an hour-and-a-half to reach her.
Mary Hockaday, 89, stumbled and hurt her hip on Monday and an ambulance was called at 10.54am.
But it wasn’t until 12.21pm and after a further three calls to the ambulance service that a St John’s Ambulance arrived.
It comes after a string of cases in Hartlepool and East Durham that have seen huge ambulance delays after players were injured at football matches.
Mrs Hockaday’s disgusted daughter-in-law, Alison Hockaday, 48, has lodged a formal complaint with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).
But NEAS chiefs say two ambulances were dispatched to the incident, at Abbotts Court Care Home, in Wheatley Hill, but were diverted to potentially life-threatening incidents.
Alison, who is married to Mrs Hockaday’s son Joe, 58, a former miner, and lives in North Road East, Wingate, said: “I’m furious. It wasn’t even an ambulance, it was St John’s. It’s absolutely disgusting for an elderly lady to be lying on the floor for an hour and a half with a broken hip.
“She has got dementia and didn’t know what was going on. Nobody should be left for an hour and a half with a broken hip, especially someone as elderly as this.”
Mother-of-two and grandmother-of-two Mrs Hockaday was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham, where she is expected to spend the next month.
Alison said her son, also called Joe, 34, travelled three miles from his home in Wingate and arrived at the care home around noon and there was still no sign of an ambulance.
He also rang to find out whether one was on its way.
“My son was nearly in tears, there was nothing he could do,” said Alison, a former occupational therapist at Winterton Hospital who doesn’t work due to an accident 13 years ago.
Staff had been instructed not to move Mrs Hockaday, who already had a false hip on the other side, for fear of making her condition worse.
An NEAS spokeswoman said all English ambulances use the St John or Red Cross ambulances and ambulance services always send the closet suitably-qualified option to the scene.
The spokeswoman said: “We received a non-life threatening call shortly before 11am alerting us to a woman who had suffered a hip injury. Two vehicles were subsequently despatched, but each was diverted en-route to incidents where life was potentially in danger.
“Our next available crew became available at noon. This arrived on scene 21 minutes later. The target response time for this type of call is 30 minutes.
“Potentially life-threatening calls always take priority, and can mean longer waits for other patients. NEAS is currently one of the highest performing ambulance services in England, reaching just under 80 per cent of the most serious cases within eight minutes.”
All English ambulance services are funded to reach 75 per cent of the most serious cases within eight minutes.
This means during the course of the year, around 25 per cent of patients may not get a response in our usual target time.