A PENSIONER needing emergency treatment waited more than five-and-a-half hours for an ambulance to take him to hospital.
Eighty-six-year-old James Allen has now told of his anger at the delay and added: “To have to wait that long for an ambulance is all wrong.”
Ambulance bosses have apologised for his ordeal and said staff were “extremely busy” that night.
James tripped and fell while working in his loft and was left with a half-inch cut to the side of his heavily-bleeding head.
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The dad-of-five and granfather-of-eight tried to stem the bleeding for about an hour-and-a-half but to no avail.
So he called his son, Steven Allen, to give him a lift to One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road.
James, who lives in Hartlepool, got to the medical centre at 6pm and saw a nurse shortly afterwards.
But his mammoth wait started when the nurse decided that a doctor at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, would need to see the wound and called for an ambulance just before 7pm.
He was told paramedics would be with him in about two hours which the OAP thought was a “fair” time to wait.
But when he was still sitting waiting the following day at 12.30am – five-and-a-half hours later – he was “fed up to say the least”.
He arrived at the University Hospital of North Tees at 1am, where a doctor had to stitch the cut to stop it bleeding, and was kept in overnight and placed on a drip to replace lost fluids.
The former factory body shop manager said he cannot fault the treatment he received, either at the One Life or at the University Hospital of North Tees, but thought the lengthy wait for the ambulance was “all wrong”.
And he said if Hartlepool still had its own accident and emergency department then he would not have needed to travel in an ambulance in the first place.
He said: “I was just waiting and waiting and the cut wouldn’t stop bleeding at all.
“I was covered in blood and the towel and pads I had held across my face were just getting sopping wet. It was only a little cut but it was quite bad.
“To have to wait that long for an ambulance is all wrong.
“It would be so much better to have our own accident and emergency department again, then my son could have taken me straight there, there wouldn’t be a need for an ambulance.
“I can’t fault the staff at One Life, they did what they could while I was there waiting because there is no doctor there.”
A spokeswoman for the North East Ambulance Service apologised to James but said its staff were “extremely busy” that night.
She said: “We would like to apologise for the delay, which fell below our usual hoped-for response time.
“We were called at 6.57pm on Saturday, October 6, by One Life,who reported an 86-year-old male who had suffered a non-life threatening injury.
“Unfortunately, the Saturday in question was extremely busy for the North East Ambulance Service, with unusually high levels of demand.
“Available ambulances are prioritised to the most urgent cases, where life is in danger, known as Red 1s.
“Unfortunately, as a result of the high level of demand for Red 1s, some other patients faced a longer than anticipated wait.”
James’s case was classed as non-life threatening and placed in in the sixth of six categories in terms of importance.
There is no target limit for answering such calls.
But the spokeswoman added: “We would like to thank Mr Allen for drawing the matter to our attention and will look into the circumstances of the delay.”