Woman who lives opposite hospital in two-hour ambulance wait

Irene Edwards Irene Edwards waited nearly two hours for an ambulance to arrive at her house

An 86-year-old woman who lives opposite a major Essex hospital had to wait nearly two hours for an ambulance.

Irene Edwards fell and lay undiscovered for 21 hours at her home in Rectory Wood, near the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

Relatives dialled 999 at 12:42 GMT on Monday but an ambulance to take her to the hospital only arrived at 14:26.

Ambulance bosses have offered to "discuss any concerns" with the family, who have demanded an explanation.

'Big problem'

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: "We would be more than happy to discuss any concerns the patient and her family may have regarding our response to their call on Monday.

"We hope she is recovering well in hospital."

He said they were called to a report that a "woman in her 80s had fallen and was suffering back pain".

The call was classed as a "Category C", meaning it was treated as "urgent but non life-threatening".

Calls are graded on a scale of A to C, with A regarded as the most urgent, the spokesman added.

Sue Edwards Sue Edwards says the family wants answers

Mrs Edwards, a widow and great grandmother, lives in a three-bedroom house yards from the entrance to the hospital, where she is now recovering from bruising to her back and elbow and mild hypothermia.

She was found by her son, Roy, 62, and his wife, Sue, 59, who live in Bishop's Stortford.

Sue Edwards said the family wanted to know what caused the delay in the ambulance attending.

'Not good enough'

"It's appalling," she said. "There's obviously a big problem somewhere in the system.

"I appreciate they are busy but for an urgent call to take an hour and 45 minutes for a lady who is 86 years old who had had a fall, with the potential for serious injuries, it's not good enough.

"I would like answers about what happened. I don't want this to happen to someone else because the outcome could be very different.

"I hope that by raising this something will be done. We're not blaming the ambulance crews. They were brilliant and it must be very frustrating for them."

She said the paramedics had "apologised profusely" and told the family they had been delayed leaving the hospital because of high numbers of patients at the accident and emergency department.

She added that she and her husband had considered taking Mrs Edwards to hospital themselves but were concerned about a possible spinal injury.

Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, said he had spoken to the family and would be contacting health chiefs on their behalf.

A spokesman for Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust said its accident and emergency department had dealt with "high numbers" of children and seriously ill patients between "lunchtime and early afternoon" on Monday.

This resulted in an average wait of 25 minutes for people to be transferred from an ambulance, the hospital said.

"While this is in excess of the 15 minute target, we worked closely with our ambulance trust colleagues to ensure all patients were prioritised on clinical need and remained safe at all times," the spokesman added.

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