A family is appalled after an 84-year-old man was left on the floor for 13 hours while he waited for an ambulance.
Mike Cokeley, a senior gentleman who suffers from dementia and Parkinson’s disease, and who is also a former ambulance driver, fell and broke his hip at his home in Easton, Bristol. His son, Matt Cokeley, says he can’t believe that his father was not prioritized higher and that the ambulance took so long to reach him.
In the meantime, the elderly man was unable to get off the floor and had to remain there waiting. His wife called for an ambulance shortly after the fall, at about 6 pm, and was told there would be a delay in the arrival of the ambulance due to a high volume of calls. She and her son were unable to help her husband up, and so he had to stay on the floor for more than half a day, afraid and in pain.
During that time, Matt and his mother called the ambulance service two more times to check on its progress, but they were given the impression that they should stop calling and tying up the lines. The ambulance arrived the next day at about 7 AM.
“The first thing they did was apologise and explain there was unprecedented demand,” Matt recalls. “When they came in, they were kind and caring and got my dad to hospital, which was all we needed.”
Matt has filed a complaint concerning this ridiculously long delay, which severely impacted his elderly father, a patient who was in dire need and should have been prioritized.
South Western Ambulance Service (SWAST) has since apologized for its failure. The ambulance service says it does not make comments on individual cases but will speak with the family about the incident.
“Our response times are directly affected by the time it takes us to hand over patients into busy hospital emergency departments, which is longer than we have ever seen before, says a SWAST spokesperson. “We are sorry that this means people are waiting longer than we would expect for us to get to them.”
All the same, Matt says, his father spent 40 years driving ambulances to help people and deserved better.
“The irony is not lost on us that he drove ambulances and, towards the end of his career, he was an ambulance control officer, so was dispatching ambulances himself,” adds Matt.
Ambulance services in the area and across the globe have been under “significant and sustained pressure for some time” due to COVID-19 and other healthcare crises.
“We would also encourage people…to help us by only dialing 999 in a life-threatening emergency so we can prioritise those who are most seriously injured and ill,” a spokesperson said.