Ambulance chiefs apologise after elderly dementia sufferer lay in agony for almost 90 minutes with broken hip

Mary Hockaday, who faced an agonising 90-minute wait for an ambulance after breaking her hip
Mary Hockaday, who faced an agonising 90-minute wait for an ambulance after breaking her hip

AMBULANCE chiefs have apologised for their failings after an elderly dementia sufferer lay in agony with a broken hip for almost an hour-and-a-half.

The family of Mary Hockaday, 89, have blasted a sequence of events that delayed an ambulance as “a comedy of errors”.

Paramedics dispatched to help Mrs Hockaday were twice diverted to other calls and even missed a turn-off before a St John’s Ambulance was eventually sent to her aid.

Mrs Hockaday’s daughter-in-law, Alison Hockaday, 48, lodged a formal complaint with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and has now received a response.

Alison said: “We got a simple apology, it’s not good enough when someone has laid there as long as my mother-in-law has.

“I do hope lessons have been learned and I hope it doesn’t happen again.”

Ambulance bosses admitted they failed to get paramedics to Mrs Hockaday within the necessary 30-minute time period and the level of service was not of the standard that is expected.

But after other reports of ambulance delays in East Durham, Alison admitted: “I don’t hold much hope that it won’t happen again.”

The Mail reported in January that Mrs Hockaday fell and hurt her hip on January 27 at Abbotts Court Care Home, in Wheatley Hill and an ambulance was called at 10.53am.

But it wasn’t until 12.21pm and a further three calls to the service that a St John’s Ambulance arrived.

A letter from the service responding to Alison’s complaint details how an ambulance dispatched for Mrs Hockaday was diverted to a potentially life-threatening incident in Sunderland.

But paramedics missed a turn-off and were sent back to the mother-of-two and grandmother-of-two.

Then it was diverted again before the St John’s Ambulance arrived. She arrived at the University Hospital of North Durham at 1.14pm.

Former Winterton Hospital worker Alison, 48, who is married to Mrs Hockaday’s son Joe, 58, a former miner, and lives in North Road East, Wingate, added: “It’s a comedy of errors. It’s absolutely disgusting that the lady laid for an hour-and-a-half while they have missed turnings and been diverted. It was even St John’s we got in the end anyway.”

Mrs Hockaday spent three days in hospital but is back at the care home, though unable to walk.

A spokesperson for service said: “We have apologised for our delay, which fell below the standard of care we aim to provide.

“This incident has been investigated and a letter has been sent to the family, outlining the circumstances of this incident.”