Ambulance chiefs have apologised after a woman was left waiting for almost three hours when she collapsed in a busy supermarket.
Paramedics were called to Asda in Hartlepool after the lady became unwell close to its tills.
Witnesses say staff put up screens to give her privacy and took pillows and blankets from the shelves to keep her warm and comfortable.
They also stayed with her while they waited for medics to arrive.
The North East Ambulance Service has said the hold-up in arriving at the shop was caused by a high demand for its service in the town at that time and it kept in contact to ensure the woman’s condition had not deteriorated.
But one man who saw the incident said there should have been a quicker response.
We apologise for any distress that this has caused but we must always prioritise our resources to those patients most in need.North East Ambulance Service spokeswoman
The 27-year-old, who works in office-based customer services, said: “It’s a long time to be on the floor, even if it was inside a supermarket.
“Having to wait for an ambulance for that long is disgusting.”
The man has contacted bosses at Asda to commend its workers for looking after the woman.
He added: “I’ve never seen anything like it.
“It was very good of the staff, who stayed by her side the whole time.
“It happened at the end of where the cashiers are, near the windows, and they put screens up.”
A spokeswoman from the ambulance service said: “We received a call at 12.35pm to reports of a patient collapsed in Asda in Hartlepool.
“Demand for our service in the Hartlepool area this afternoon has meant that patients with non-life threatening symptoms may have waited longer for an ambulance than we would have liked. We apologise for any distress that this has caused but we must always prioritise our resources to those patients most in need.
“In the event of a delay, our clinicians keep in close contact with patients in case their symptoms worsen.
“We tried to send a number of resources to this case, which were diverted to more seriously ill 999 callers.”
The woman was taken to the University Hospital North Tees at 3.20pm.
Nationally, doctors have warned the NHS is at breaking point due to under-funding and understaffing.
l Do you know the woman who was left to wait for an ambulance, if so contact the Mail on 01429 865475.