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Swansea woman waits more than 2 hours for ambulance after falling on ice

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 16, 2013

By Rupert Hall

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AMBULANCE crews took more than two hours to reach a woman who fell on the ice in Swansea yesterday.

The injured lady is believed to have fallen after slipping on ice on Phoenix Way in the Garngoch area, near Gorseinon, at around 11.15am.

It is understood ambulance crews were called within minutes of the incident but took more than two hours to reach the woman and eventually arrived at approximately 1.45pm.

A spokesman for the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust confirmed that handover delays at hospitals in the area reduced the ability to respond to emergency calls at the time the call for help was received.

A witness who did not want to be named said: "People who work in the nearby units here went out to help her and rang an ambulance straightaway. It was extremely cold."

Another witness said: "I came back from a job and there was a small crowd outside.

"They explained this lady had fallen on the ice.

"It is not the ambulance driver's fault, it is the Government's fault there are not enough ambulances on the roads."

Unison regional organiser Jeff Baker speaks for ambulance staff in Swansea and said an investigation needs to be conducted into why it took crews more than two hours to reach the injured woman.

He said: "It (the time taken for ambulance crews to arrive) could be down to any one of a number of factors which all show the pressure the ambulance service is under.

"There seems to be universal recognition that they may be in a worse situation than the local hospital trusts because there is yet another all-Wales review into the ambulance services taking place.

"It is very difficult.

"It (the incident involving the injured lady in Garngoch) is unacceptable and there needs to be a fair investigation into this.

"There is also the ongoing problem of ambulances being tied up outside A&E departments."

In November last year the ambulance service hit the headlines when the Post reported that a mum injured in a Swansea Valley road smash claimed her worried son arrived at the scene from Cardiff before an ambulance did.

Judith Jenkins said she waited around 90 minutes for an ambulance to take her to hospital.

A spokesman for the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust said: "We are very concerned about the time it took to attend the incident and will be looking into the circumstances of the case.

"We would encourage the patient and family to contact us directly with their concerns to discuss the matter further."

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  • Ulidian  |  February 01 2013, 2:42AM

    It doesn't matter if this woman didn't have a life threatening condition - she was at environmental risk and should have had a fast response. As to whose fault it was that she didn't, that's a circular discussion. WAST is always very careful not to point fingers at other NHS bodies, despite losing huge resources at A&E departments, because blaming another part of the NHS - take note ABM-Health - impresses nobody. Anyway, the A&E departments are under pressure because government - and not just in Wales - fails to acknowledge that people use them for primary care and resource them accordingly. There's no point saying that the patient is getting it wrong, because that isn't going to change user behaviour. But the Welsh Government is also under pressure. It doesn't have the funds to pay for everything its citizens need. That's why the health boards are trying to reform services. Making the argument that there are too many hospital beds is a tough job, but it's true. Too many vulnerable people end up in hospital when they'd be much safer in their own homes or in a community facility. HBs making this argument are slaughtered by newspapers like this one, which are often more concerned with circulation than with what's best for the reader. So where do we go? Every avenue seems to end in a cul-de-sac. Do we just accept the risks and complain when it continues to go wrong? Kick the managers for something that's beyond their control? Or do we accept that hard decisions have to be made, to disinvest in hospitals and put the money into the community? I'm not holding my breath for a solution. Finally, a word about Welsh Ambulance Service response time standards. I keep seeing them in league tables with England and all that tells me is that "specialist" health correspondents don't know what they're writing about. Yes, the English standard is 75% within 8 minutes for the most serious emergencies. Yes, the Welsh standard is 65%. But there's no comparison between the two. In England, standards are measured across the whole service footprint and are aggregated over a full year. That means that an English ambulance trust can achieve its standards by putting more resource into urban areas and focusing on low activity periods. The Welsh standards include a minimum standard for each local authority area, so there's no hiding under-performance in areas like Powys. I hope I don't need to explain how much more difficult and expensive that is than the English model. The Welsh standards also have to be met every month, so there's no hiding place either for bad months. "Specialist" health correspondents please take note.

  • MAD666  |  January 22 2013, 10:01AM

    It was disturbing to read of this lady's two hour wait for an ambulance after a fall. Being left on a cold pavement like that is totally unacceptable, and should not be allowed to happen. But we are hearing of this sort of scenario time and time again. What on earth is going on? Perhaps it is time for Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh Minister for Health, and other politicians in Cardiff Bay to shadow all paramedics, nurses and doctors for a few weeks to find out just how bad everything is becoming in the health service. Also, they will be able to see at first hand the very low moral of most of the staff in hospitals. It is only then that something may be done. These politicians don't seem to have a clue about the real crisis at the front end of the NHS. Do they really care? Are they really interested in what is happening in the health service? It makes you wonder. The politicians 'talk the talk', but that it seems is where it ends. I just wonder if there is another agenda here. It just beggars belief that in 2013 we seem to be going backwards in many areas of the NHS. Something is most definitely seriously wrong with the system as it is, and urgent action is needed. We all know that savings have to be made, we are having it drummed into us enough, but the where much needed finance can be raised. Although I am sure it will go down like a lead balloon with some, but common sense has to prevail here. If more money is needed to supply an acceptable level of service then perhaps the NHS and ambulance service should start charging the drunks who land up in A&E departments all over the country, taking up valuable ambulances, and doctors and nurses time and attention. It comes to something that at the weekend in Wind Street there are even triage centres in place to deal with people who are either drunk, or the victims of a drunken brawl etc. Ambulances always seem to be available for these people. It is time to say that if they want to binge drink, fine, that is up to them, but if they then need treatment as a result of binge drinking or violence, then they must be made to pay for it. The NHS and ambulance service get desperately needed funds, and the 'drunks' may think twice if they have to pay for their treatment. It is not so long ago that headlines were saying that some obese people and smokers were being refused treatment unless they changed their lifestyle. All this was to save the NHS money. Then why for goodness sake are we pandering to the binge drinkers in society, allowing them to use up so much of the NHS funds? This sort of charge could mean the difference between a person lying for two hours in the cold for an ambulance or getting the help needed to get to hospital quickly. Politicians must act now! It is what they are paid for! They must all stop playing politics and start governing, otherwise I dread to think what will happen in years to come.

  • ABM_Health  |  January 17 2013, 9:58AM

    Williamwaun - you follow and comment on health stories avidly, so no doubt you are well aware that there are major plans to reorganise NHS services in Wales - much of this is down to the huge challenges facing the NHS in 2012. These put pressures on many services, including A&E. No-one is denying this - quite the opposite. We have been flagging it up for some time. The ongoing shortage of doctors - and A&E is one of the worst-hit areas - does put huge pressures on A&E departments across Wales and contributes to delays. This is why there is work going on at the moment looking at ideas over reorganising A&E services in South Wales so we can make better use of the staff we have. You may also be aware that there is a review of ambulance services also underway. So please be assured that we are aware of issues and are trying to fund ways forward.

  • carmshire  |  January 17 2013, 9:39AM

    This ladies fall was probably classed as non life threatening so if there were life threatening calls in the are, these would have been responded too first and quite rightly so. If you were dying of a heart attack, would you be happy if the local Emergency ambulance was too busy to come to your aid because they were picking Mrs Jones up off the floor while 25 bystanders watched ???? The problem is further compunded by Ambulances having to travel long distances to respond to calls as there can be a whole areas fleet of Ambulances queueing outside hospitals. If hospitals sorted themselves out, the public would see a big improvement in the Ambulance service. You can't blame the Ambulance service managers wholly for performance. Politically, they have their hands tied and are unable to publicly blame hospitals for much of the services woes although it is the case. An Ambulance services main function is to provide trained medical personnel in an Ambulance and treat and transport if necessary to an appropriate facility. The Management need to urgently streamline the vast amount of unnecessary employees it has and concentrate its funds on delivering the service its intended to!!!

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  • williamwaun  |  January 16 2013, 5:54PM

    My god ABM. No wonder the NHS is in a mess with people like you running it. Surely the ambulances are queued up in the hospitals in corridors waiting for the hospitals staff to sign them over. The ambulance men and women are doing a great job, but there are several ambulance staff hanging about in corridors, this should never happen, they should drop patients off and be straight back on call. Its about time its sorted before more people are left to die. And the Government in London haven't cut the budget they have protected it. But the Labour Welsh Assembly have cut the welsh health budget. Like ABM have said in the past they are not short of money only doctors.

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  • ABM_Health  |  January 16 2013, 4:46PM

    To answer Williamwaun - I'm afraid we can't comment on ambulance service queries like this, as we don't manage ambulances. They are the responsibility of the Welsh Ambulances Services NHS Trust.

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  • GorsseinonJoe  |  January 16 2013, 4:17PM

    Managing a service as badly as this is hardly the fault of any Government. It is the fault of those who are responsible for the running of the service. Labour and Conservative governments have increased the amount of money into the health service, where has the money gone? If this lady hadn't been in the middle of a busy industrial estate where help was readily at hand what could the consequences have been? I believe that the ambulance service is missing it's target for response time year after year, it is time for those responsible to be held responsible or make for them to get out and make room for others who can make this service work.

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  • abertawe  |  January 16 2013, 3:52PM

    Neathboy. Why should it be reported when an ambulance turns up quickly? Shouldn't that be happening on every call out?

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  • Neathboy234  |  January 16 2013, 10:09AM

    williamwaun These stories are indeed a regular occurrence, what of course is never reported is when the ambulance turns up very quickly.

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  • bennyhill4  |  January 16 2013, 10:04AM

    williamwaun, Unfortunately this is the reality of the cuts this government is imposing on the public sector. Less money means less ambulance drivers and less ambulances therefor more instances of this kind are bound to happen.Ambulance drivers must be really annoyed at this negative publicity when they are so understaffed

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