105-year-old's 999 wait slammed
Ambulance bosses have apologised after a 105-year-old woman who suffered a fall had to wait two and a half hours to be taken to hospital.
As many as eight crews were assigned to go to Marion Beaton's home in Hebburn, South Tyneside, but were diverted to more serious emergencies.
The pensioner, who lives alone, was found by her carer at around 8am on Friday in the hallway of her flat, where she had fallen during the night.
She was conscious and breathing but had hurt her arm when the carer called for an ambulance. It only arrived at 10.32am, just over two and a half hours later.
The North East Ambulance Service apologised and said that wait for such an elderly patient was "unacceptable".
Each patient is graded by the seriousness of their condition, with priority patients with breathing or cardiac complaints called as Red 1, and other life-threatening emergencies Red 2. They must be seen within eight minutes.
Green 2 cases have a recommended response time of 30 minutes, with Green 3 requiring telephone assessment within 20 minutes and an ambulance in an hour.
In a statement, the service said: "It's not acceptable that a 105-year-old lady had to wait this long, and we are sorry that we could not get there earlier than we did.
"We were called at 7.57am on May 16 to reports that the lady had fallen. She was with a carer.
"The lady had suffered an arm injury, but was breathing and conscious.
"As the patient was deaf, the triaging process took a bit longer than usual.
"However, it was established that the lady was not in a life-threatening situation, and was classified as a Green 3.
"Between 7.57am and 10.32am, eight different crews were allocated the call - but all were diverted to Red incidents due to heavy demand.
"During the wait for a vehicle to become free, we kept in touch with the patient.
"Up until 9.44am there had been no change in her condition.
"However, due to the length of time waiting, the call was then upgraded to a Green 2.
"Having dealt with the life-threatening situations, our crew arrived at the scene at 10.32am, and took the lady to South Tyneside A&E for treatment to the arm injury."
People living near Miss Beaton, who has mobility problems as well as being deaf, were disgusted by the wait.
Next-door neighbour George Ludford told the Shields Gazette: "I cannot believe that it took two and a half hours for an ambulance to reach a woman who is 105 years old."
It is believed Miss Beaton is still being treated in hospital.