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Ambulance bosses sorry for Craigavon pensioner's three-hour wait


The elderly woman suffered the injury at a shopping area in Craigavon (stock image)

The elderly woman suffered the injury at a shopping area in Craigavon (stock image)

Criticism: Thomas Larkham

Criticism: Thomas Larkham

The elderly woman suffered the injury at a shopping area in Craigavon (stock image)

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) has apologised to a pensioner who waited nearly three hours for an ambulance after breaking her hip.

The NIAS said the ordeal endured by the 65-year-old, who was forced to lie on "ice-cold tiles" while waiting, was unacceptable.

A review into how the service handled the call will now be carried out.

The woman broke her hip in a fall at a shopping area in Legahory in Craigavon last Friday.

Members of the public, along with staff from a nearby medical centre, came to her aid after the incident.

With an ambulance nowhere in sight, they resorted to using pieces of cardboard to keep her warm.

She was reported to be on the mend on Tuesday after undergoing surgery at Craigavon Area Hospital.

SDLP councillor Thomas Larkham, one of the people who helped the woman after she fell, welcomed the apology from the NIAS.

"I hope that this lady makes a full recovery," he said.

However, Mr Larkham also stressed the episode was not an isolated incident and that the number of such cases was growing.

"I have the greatest regard for our ambulance service and staff, who work tirelessly day and night," Mr Larkham explained.

"But senior management need to explain why these situations where people are left waiting for hours on an ambulance are becoming more frequent."

Mr Larkham said that he and his party colleagues would be raising the issue directly with Health Minister and Ulster Unionist Party MLA Robin Swann.

The NIAS said in a statement that a 999 call was received just before 1pm and a emergency crew was despatched to the scene.

However, the statement did not state what time the crew arrived, only explaining that the patient was taken to hospital after a medical assessment was carried out.

"We always prioritise our response to those patients who are most seriously ill and injured," the statement read.

"However, it's unacceptable for an elderly person to have been lying in the cold and in pain for the length of time the patient waited in this case.

"We sincerely apologise to the patient.

"We will be reviewing our response in this case to understand the circumstances that contributed to the delay."

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