Harold Beeforth: 102-year-old veteran waits over four hours for an ambulance after falling during VJ Day anniversary celebrations

His family said they were 'disgusted' by the delay and highlighted the contrast between his treatment and the national VJ celebrations

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The Independent Online

A 102-year-old Second World War veteran waited for more than four hours for an ambulance after he fell and injured his head at a nursing home during the VJ Day anniversary celebrations on 15 August.

Harold Beeforth, who served in Singapore during the conflict, suffered the fall at the home in Middlesbrough as the last remaining veterans were marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender.

His family said they were “disgusted” by the delay and highlighted the contrast between his treatment and the  national VJ celebrations.

Mr Beeforth’s daughter, Linda Smith, 74, told the local Evening Gazette: “It was Saturday, VJ Day of all days. My father was in Singapore on VJ Day 70 years ago. What a way to commemorate it.


“He had slipped trying to get from one chair to another. He’s very weak and suffered a seizure on his 102nd birthday in May. Since then he’s not been able to take his own weight, but thinks he can and tries to get up off his chair. It’s just ridiculous that he had to lay on the hard floor for that amount of time.

“Staff at the home got cushions to ease him, but nobody should be left, regardless of age, for anything like that length of time. It’s something to do with a system that’s obviously unable to cope.”

Ms Smith has written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to express her concerns. Her sister Dorothy Parry, 63, has also raised the issue with her local MP. 

Mr Beeforth’s son, John, said: “I am angry and frustrated that my father could be treated this way by a system that is lauded as being one of the best in the world.”

North East Ambulance Service said paramedics received reports of a person injured from a fall at 10.49am and the service was unable to send an ambulance until 2.33pm due to “particularly high demand”.

A service spokeswoman apologised for Mr Beeforth’s wait and said his call was categorised as “Green”, to be dealt with as soon as the volume of life-threatening calls allowed.

She said the service tries to reach most Green calls within 30 minutes, but Saturday was an extremely busy day.

She said: “The weekend saw exceptional demand on our 999 service. During one spell we were handing over 120 of the highest category calls, where patients have either suffered a cardiac arrest or stopped breathing.”

Middlesbrough MPs Andy McDonald and Tom Blenkinsop are to meet with the family to discuss the matter.