A PENSIONER recovering from major heart surgery was forced to wait almost FOUR HOURS for an ambulance.
Stan Kelly’s doctor rang for an ambulance after he woke up feeling “horrendous” and had trouble breathing just weeks after undergoing major surgery on his heart.
His doctor expected an ambulance to be with him in around an hour – but one did not arrive until three hours and 45 minutes later.
It is the latest in a series of incidents of patients in Hartlepool and East Durham enduring lengthy waits because of a shortage of ambulance resources.
It comes after the Mail reported last week how much-loved Hartlepool man William Gouldburn, 73, died after being left on his bathroom floor for two hours.
Mr Kelly, a retired bus and coach driver, who also has a chronic lung condition and asthma, blasted the wait and called for more ambulances to be provided.
The grandad-of-two said: “I just felt absolutely horrendous when I woke up.
“I very rarely wake up with breathing difficulties. With the doctor sending for the ambulance it could have been anything, we just didn’t know.
“It is just the thought of the ambulance being that long. We were told an hour to an hour and a quarter at the most, but it was three hours and 45 minutes.
“My wife’s sister, or daughter or the next-door neighbour could have taken me if we had known. We wouldn’t have waited that long.”
The North East Ambulance Service says it was dealing with more life-threatening cases last Wednesday when Mr Kelly was ill.
Mr Kelly, who is married to Ann, 63, has three grown-up daughters, was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, where he was kept in overnight.
A scan later revealed he had a chest infection and fluid on the lung and was given medication.
Mr Kelly, of Clifton avenue, Hartlepool, added: “I can’t blame the ambulance crews, they are up to their necks with it.
“There should be more ambulances. Do you write to the health minister, the Prime Minister, the Queen? How high far do you need to go?”
A North East Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called by the gentleman’s GP at 1.47pm, who requested transport for a patient with a chest infection. It was not an emergency 999 call, and there was no target time response.
“As an emergency service, our top priority is always incidents where people may die if we do not get there within eight minutes. And for this type of response we are consistently the quickest in England and Wales.
“Once we had attended the more pressing Red calls where life was in immediate danger, we were able to attend the patient at 5.30pm.
“We kept in touch with the patient throughout the day, during which time his condition did not change.
“We are pleased to hear he is making a good recovery from his chest infection.”
The public services union Unison described Mr Kelly’s case as just the latest in a long line of incidents.
David Atkinson, who represents the union’s ambulance service members, said: “It is certainly to do with a lack of resources. The trust are now saying this.
“They have a £1.7m shortfall in their budget this year.”
David said the cuts are putting “huge pressure” on frontline staff.
He added: “These long waiting times are making patients frustrated and could be one of the reasons why assaults on staff are up.”