Agonising 4-hour wait for rescue

Tracy Ellis
Tracy Ellis

A woman with a dislocated kneecap lay writhing on the floor in agony for four hours as she waited for an ambulance.

Tracy Ellis, 45, was told an ambulance was “on its way” after being injured at her home in Doggett Street, Leighton Buzzard, on Thursday, June 18.

After phoning the ambulance at 3.40pm, Tracy called husband Robert – who was working away in Southampton –telling him what had happened.

Robert arrived at their home just as the ambulance pulled up at 7.50pm – more than four hours later.

Housewife Tracy said: “I was lying on the floor in tears and I was literally in agony.

“It started as I was walking into my bedroom when my leg suddenly went.

“It was very painful, I managed to drag myself into the front room to get my phone. I got halfway across the floor but couldn’t reach it.”

Tracy’s puppy helpfully fetched it to her.

She said: “I phoned for an ambulance and I thought it shouldn’t be that long as I live near an ambulance station.”

Tracy claims an hour went by as she lay waiting for emergency services. She said: “I rang them back and they said, ‘we’ve got to take your details down again’.

“Then they said that the original ambulance was en route.”

“I dragged myself into the hallway and sat there and hours went by. No ambulance came and I rang my husband, who rang them twice himself.”

Robert was so concerned for his wife’s welfare that after two calls to the ambulance, he even phoned the police to ask if someone could check on her.

Robert said: “I’m not at all happy about it.

“I realise that they are busy, but fours hours is a long time to be laying on the floor in agony. They could have sent someone round.”

In the meantime, Tracy began to receive courtesy calls from the ambulance service as she waited for help to arrive.

She said: “At 5.26pm I got a call asking how I was and telling me not to move, and I thought, ‘I can’t move!’.

“And then 7pm I got another call where I was told I was being ‘upgraded’.

A stunned Tracy enquired about the ambulance said to have been en-route hours earlier. Finally, at 7.50pm emergency services arrived.

Tracy said: “I felt very relieved. By this time, I had managed to phone a friend who was with me and got me a glass of water as I hadn’t had anything to drink.”

At hospital, Robert said doctors were “quite disgusted” at the length of time Tracy had been made to wait.

An East of England Ambulance spokesman said: “We sincerely apologise that the patient waited for an ambulance for longer than she should. Comfort calls were made by our control room staff so that we could continue to assess her condition and pain levels, and we attempted several times to send an ambulance but crews had to be diverted to patients with very serious conditions.

“We are increasing ambulance cover and frontline staffing. This year we are recruiting another 400 student paramedics in addition to the 400 student paramedics we recruited last year.

“This is leading to better responses to patients but we know more needs to be done. We would welcome the patient contacting the Trust to discuss her case more fully and for us to learn from her experience.”