Son beats ambulance to mother’s side despite travelling 200 miles to reach her

‘Despite our attempts to keep her warm, my mother was extremely cold, distressed and in so much pain that she said she just wanted to die’

Alex Matthews-King
Health Correspondent
Thursday 07 February 2019 14:00
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Ambulance services across the country face exceptional demand, which means less urgent patients must wait longer
Ambulance services across the country face exceptional demand, which means less urgent patients must wait longer

A man was able to travel 200 miles from London to Devon to help his 77-year-old mother who was stricken on her cold conservatory floor with a broken hip, before an ambulance arrived.

Mark Clements took a bus, tube and two trains from his home in Brixton to Exmouth where he was “appalled” to find his mother Margaret lying awkwardly on the floor attended by some family – but no paramedics.

His journey took three hours and 40 minutes and he arrived shortly after 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

There was no sign of the ambulance that had been called around six hours earlier at 9am.

“By this point, despite our attempts to keep her warm, my mother was extremely cold, distressed and in so much pain that she said she just wanted to die,” he told ITV News. ”My mother is a very strong woman and it was heartbreaking to see her go through this experience.”

When an ambulance crew arrived 50 minutes later they were equally “appalled and astonished”, he said.

The delay was particularly pronounced as Ms Clements lives 10 minutes from an ambulance station.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has apologised for the delay and said there was a high demand at the time due to bad weather.

Because Ms Clements’ condition was not considered life threatening it had been classed as a category four case, for patients who need transport to hospital.

The average response for category four calls in England last year was one hour and 24 minutes.

A SWASFT spokesperson said: “We are sorry that we were not able reach this patient sooner. Like all ambulance services across the country, we continue to see an unprecedented rise in demand for our services. As such, we must prioritise our response for those most critically ill patients. Unfortunately it can be very hard to manage the demand with finite resources, and occasionally those patients assessed as being less urgent do experience delays.”

Last year ambulance chiefs were forced to draft in nurses and GPs as first responders because of winter pressures, while some elderly patients died after waiting hours for support.

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