Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Agonising five hour wait of OAP for ambulance is Stormont's shame

An ambulance was called at 7.15pm, but it did not arrive until after midnight (stock photo)
An ambulance was called at 7.15pm, but it did not arrive until after midnight (stock photo)

Editor's Viewpoint

The photos we carry today of a 91-year old woman waiting in agony on the floor for five hours for an ambulance should embarrass every politician at Stormont.

Iris Blemings fell on Monday night at her home in Finaghy and was found lying on the floor by her home help.

An ambulance was called at 7.15pm, but it did not arrive until after midnight. Those five hours of agony must have seemed endless to this elderly woman and her loved ones.

It is totally wrong that anyone, regardless of age, should have to wait this long for vital help, and given the advanced age of the woman who fell, the long delay was all the more distressing.

Clearly there are resource issues, which are underlined by this case, but when it focuses on the story of one elderly woman lying in agony for such a long time, we are made directly aware of the human suffering involved.

It is important to stress that the family do not blame the medical staff who were under such pressure, and they stress that, despite the long wait, the medical care was "amazing".

Anyone who has dealt with emergency services will understand the anxiety felt by the relatives of the person needing help.

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And the longer the delay, the greater the worry about the person's condition.

However, like Iris's family, they are appreciative of the quality of help administered once members of the emergency services arrive.

But there is something badly wrong with the system when an elderly person has to lie in great pain for hours until help finally arrives.

In the end the responsibility for such a malfunction of our NHS, including the emergency services, lies at the door of Stormont, and it is yet another example of why our hapless politicians need to get back to work.

This overall inefficiency is bad enough, but it is disturbing to learn that more than 1,100 emergency calls were made from only 10 addresses here last year.

This means that a minority of people are constantly in need of urgent medical help - or that there are a great many vexatious calls.

If the latter is the case, then these are crimes denying potentially lifesaving care to someone else. It is impossible for paramedics not to respond to what appear to be genuine calls for help.

Anyone found guilty of such behaviour, including repeat offenders, should be made to face the full rigours of the law.

Belfast Telegraph


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