A 93-year-old pensioner was left lying on the floor ‘screaming in pain’ while waiting for an ambulance for 25 hours after a fall.
Elizabeth Davies was finally taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor but then had to endure another 12-hour wait to be admitted to a ward.
Her heartbreaking wait came ahead of tomorrow’s ambulance strikes, which will see thousands more NHS staff join the around 10,000 nurses who walked out today in a dispute over pay.
Health minister Will Quince urged Britons not to ring 999 unless they are sure their condition is ‘life-threatening’. He said people should avoid doing anything ‘risky’.
Elizabeth Jane Davies, 93, suffered a hip fracture in a fall at her residential care home in Llanbedrog, Llyn Peninsula
LONDON: Members of the RCN on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital today
Military personnel from the Household Division take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks in London, as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers on December 21 and 28
Soldiers are being given last-minute training to fill in for striking ambulance drivers tomorrow, with senior officer has admitted there will be ‘nerves’ among the troops.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay is set to meet ambulance unions today in a last ditch effort to avoid further chaos. He is facing calls to resign unless he gets a grip on the crisis.
Yesterday, Mrs Davies underwent surgery to determine the extent of her injuries after a hip fracture was confirmed.
Her son Ian Davies and daughter-in-law Susan, from Pwllheli, have been left beside themselves with worry.
‘It was very upsetting to have to see her lying on the floor screaming in pain for over 24 hours,’ said Ian.
The Welsh Ambulance Service has apologised for what happened. It blamed winter pressures, high demand and staff sickness levels.
Elizabeth, who is originally from Mynytho, Gwynedd but moved to Pentreuchaf after marrying husband Hughie, has been a resident in a care home in Llanbedrog, Llyn Peninsula, for more than 17 years.
Still relatively fit, the mother-of-three uses a walking frame to get around the care home, which asked not to be named.
But at around 11.45am on Saturday, staff heard a bump and found her sprawled in the living room. ‘They called for an ambulance but were advised an ambulance wouldn’t be available for six to eight hours as they were so busy,’ said Ian.
‘They said my mother would be a priority because of her age. The care home then called us and we came immediately.’
Staff propped a pillow under Elizabeth’s head and did their best to make her comfortable on the wooden floor. ‘They were excellent,’ said Ian, who like Susan is himself a community carer.
‘They put a small heater next to her to keep her warm in case she went into shock.’
Staff began redialling ambulance control staff once it became clear there would be further delays.
It’s understood the care home made a total of nine calls: a tenth was made by Ian and Susan.
She had to wait in agony on the floor for 25 hours and 30 minutes before an ambulance arrived
‘We had to leave at midnight as we had to be up at 5.30am to go to work,’ said Susan. ‘My mother-in-law usually goes to bed at 6.30pm-7pm but she couldn’t and she was getting extremely tired.’
Care home staff stayed with her through the night. ‘Each time they called for an update, they were told my mother was a priority and an ambulance would come as soon as possible,’ said Ian.
An ambulance finally arrived at around 1.15pm on Sunday, some 25 hours and 30 minutes after Elizabeth fell. She was taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd and eventually to a ward.
Ian and Susan have yet to discover her prognosis. The incident has left the couple bitterly disappointed.
‘I don’t blame the ambulance staff because they are told what jobs to do and my mother wasn’t on the list,’ said Ian. ‘But I was very upset by what happened, it was unacceptable.
‘The whole of the NHS is struggling at the moment and one of the biggest problems is the shortage of carers. They aren’t paid enough and no one wants to do the job.’
Stephen Sheldon, service manager for the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) in North Wales, extended his apologies to Mrs Davies for her long wait. He invited the family to contact the service directly to raise their concerns.
He said: ‘Winter pressures coupled with a surge in demand, staff sickness levels and the wider system pressures across NHS Wales has inhibited our ability to respond. Extensive hospital handover delays are well documented and has led to some very long waits for patients.
‘On the 17 and 18 December, we spent over 1,600 hours outside hospitals across Wales, waiting to hand patients over to our hospital colleagues.. 563 of those hours were lost outside hospitals in North Wales.
‘We are working with partners across Wales to mitigate the pressures as best we can. The public can help us by only calling 999 in a serious or life-threatening emergency so that our resources are available for those who need us most.’
The WAS is urging the public to plan ahead as industrial action hits the service in the coming days. Paramedics and other WAS employees are walking out on December 20, 21 and 28.
The walk-out will put additional pressure on the ambulance service, said Mr Sheldon.
Patients should ensure they have the medication they need, and explore ‘other means of transport’ if they need urgent medical care or have to visit hospital. Health advice and information is also available on the NHS 111 Wales website.
MailOnline has contacted the Welsh Ambulance Service for comment.