Dementia patient waited three hours for an ambulance after breaking hip and thigh

Mary Hockaday in hospital
Mary Hockaday in hospital

AN elderly dementia sufferer waited three hours for an ambulance with a broken hip and thigh – just months after paramedics had been delayed in reaching her after a similar fall.

Mary Hockaday, 89, fell and hurt her hip and staff at her care home called an ambulance at 11pm.

Mary Hockaday

Mary Hockaday

But despite four phone calls to the ambulance service, it wasn’t until 2am that a St John Ambulance arrived.

The Mail reported in January that it took an ambulance 90 minutes to get to Mrs Hockaday after a similar fall.

Bosses at the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) sent the family a letter in March to apologise and 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 expected standard.

But following the latest delay, Mrs Hockaday’s daughter-in-law, Alison Hockaday, 49, wants to meet a chief from the ambulance trust in person to demand answers and is considering taking legal action.

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.

Alison, who is married to Mrs Hockaday’s son Joe, a 59-year-old former miner, and lives in North Road East, Wingate, said a surgeon at the University Hospital of North Durham, where mum-of-two and grandmother-of-two Mrs Hockaday spent 17 days, told her chances of pulling through the operation was slim.
“I believe the chance was made even less by the wait,” added Alison, who is mum to Joe, 35, and Daniel, 14.

“To lie there for three hours with so many broken bones is not acceptable.

“It beggars belief.”

Alison, a former occupational therapist at Winterton Hospital who doesn’t work due to an accident 13 years ago, added: “I’m absolutely livid.

“We have put another complaint in.

“I want to see someone high up and we are contemplating legal action.

“They have learned nothing from last time.

“One of the call-takers asked if my mother-in-law was still breathing and when she said yes, she was told ‘there’s no problem then’.

“She hasn’t recovered from the previous one yet.This time it was her femur as well, it was a bigger break.
I’m in disbelief.

“Last time was bad enough, with an hour-and-a-half wait.

“This time it was three hours, she was really distressed and the next day her dementia was worse than ever.”

An NEAS spokeswoman said: “We would like to apologise to the patient for the delay they experienced, which fell below the response time the North East Ambulance Service would normally hope to achieve.

“The circumstances of this case are currently being investigated. We are in dialogue with the family, and will be passing on the findings of our investigation to them in the coming weeks.”

Mrs Hockaday had fallen at the Abbotts Court Care Home, in Wheatley Hill, on October 31 after getting out of bed to put a pillow under her door to block out light.

Ambulance chiefs had said in the previous call-out, two ambulances were dispatched but were diverted to potentially life-threatening incidents.