Health crisis: NI woman, 65, left screaming in pain with broken bones for almost seven hours in wait for ambulance

A man whose wife was left screaming in pain with several broken bones for hours waiting on an ambulance has said there needs to be a “concerted effort to fix the health service”.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 7:01 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 7:55 am

Alan Blair, a 66-year-old from Ballymena who works in the transport industry, was speaking to the News Letter after his wife Carole was forced to wait nearly seven hours with a smashed hip and a broken femur for an ambulance to arrive.

At the time of writing, Mrs Blair was in the Royal Victoria Hospital waiting to have an operation which has been scheduled for today.

Mr Blair said: “We need a concerted effort from everybody to fix the health service, because that’s terrible.

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Carole Blair with two of her grandchildren. She was forced to wait nearly seven hours for an ambulance

“I would be all for the health service but it’s going downhill badly at the minute.

“I would just like to ask Edwin Poots if he fixes the protocol will it get me an ambulance quicker, and Michelle O’Neill if I can speak Irish will it get me an ambulance quicker.

“I know that’s a snide remark but these are the big stories in the news, when the only story is the health service. When you can’t get an ambulance it’s the only story.”

He explained what happened, saying: “On Wednesday night past at 9pm my wife Carole, who has mobility issues and is an acute diabetic, had a bad fall in our house.

“She fell from standing – her left leg got trapped below her right leg.

“She was yelling with pain. I rang for an ambulance at 9.05pm and explained the severity of her injuries, the ambulance never arrived until 3.30am some six-and-a-half hours later.”

At the time of writing, Mrs Blair was scheduled for an operation at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast this morning.

“She went to the Antrim hospital for x-rays and then they sent her to the Royal for the operation.

“Whenever I say she was yelling with pain – she smashed her hip, her leg was jammed in below her other leg and she’s also broken her femur – so she was in an unbelievable amount of pain. “

He added: “It is worth saying my house is only one mile from the ambulance station.”

The incident comes after a warning from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine that the situation at Northern Ireland’s hospitals had become “dangerous” with overcrowding, amid “record” emergency admission delays.

Mr Blair stressed that he was thankful for the efforts of the health service staff.

A NI Ambulance Service (NIAS) spokesman responded that it would like to “apologise unreservedly to the patient and her husband” for having to wait 6.5 hours. He added: “We recognise the obvious distress caused by the unacceptable delay – it is not the type of service we wish to provide to those who are in need.”

NIAS is responding to complaints on the matter from elected representantives.

He said the NIAS prioritises “immediately life-threatening calls” and that patients are advised to phone back if their condition deterioriates. The NIAS/NHS has seen “increased demand” in the past week, he added.