NHS Wales: Day-long ambulance wait after care home fall

A 91-year-old woman was left on the floor "like a piece of rubbish" during a nearly 24-hour ambulance wait, her family has said.

Theresa Jones had to be dragged back to her room on a sheet from the corridor where she fell in Port Talbot's Maes-y-Bryn residential home, her daughter Janice Maguire said.

A 999 operator told staff not to pick her up in case she had broken a bone.

The Welsh Ambulance Service said it was "deeply sorry" for what happened.

Mrs Jones fell at just after 21:00 GMT on 31 January.

"The staff rang for an ambulance to be told it would be about eight hours, but they would send a rapid response team just to check on her," Ms Maguire said.

"After a few hours nothing... so they rang again and were told they just have to wait.

"She fell in the corridor and they were afraid other people would trip over her, but because they couldn't lift her up, they had to drag her back into her room.

"They were told not to give her any food or pain relief."

Ms Maguire said after many phone calls and nearly 24 hours of waiting on the floor, an ambulance arrived at around 20:45 on 1 February.

Mrs Jones was taken to Morriston Hospital, Swansea, where tests revealed she had not broken anything and she was returned to the care home the following day.

Ms Maguire said her mother should never have been left to wait so long.

"She has dementia and breast cancer so she doesn't remember much about it," she said.

"She was so confused at the time. She kept asking for a hot drink or to go to the loo but she couldn't do any of that.

"We were helpless because we were told not to move her and that she couldn't eat.

"She was in pain. She was uncomfortable. She had to wet herself. It's just unacceptable."

She called the situation "so distressing".

"My mum, the elderly, have worked all their lives. They've paid their taxes and then they're treated like that. Twenty-four hours is just unacceptable without pain relief, without anything," Ms Maguire said.

There was a queue of around ten ambulances when Mrs Jones was finally taken to Morriston hospital

Her partner Dave Watmore said when they did get Mrs Jones to hospital, there were about ten ambulances waiting outside.

"The NHS staff, the care home staff were all brilliant," he said.

"But the whole service needs more funding.

"She's 91 years old and she got through it, but imagine how many people haven't gotten through a similar situation?

"The Welsh government need to pull their finger out and sort this out. The NHS are doing everything they can but something needs to be done."

Ambulance service under 'extreme pressure'

The Welsh Ambulance Service's assistant director of operations Sonia Thompson said: "We are deeply sorry about Mrs Jones' experience, which we know will have been a painful and distressing wait for all involved, including staff at the residential home.

"This is not the level of service we wish to provide to patients.

"Our ambulance service is under extreme and well-documented pressure as a result of wider system pressures across the NHS."

The service is looking at solutions she said, admitting the "current situation is untenable for patients and staff across health and social care".

"As an ambulance service, we're thinking very differently about the way we deliver services in future, and we are already testing some new ways of working across Wales to understand how we can relieve some of the pressure," she added.

The Welsh government said despite "budget pressures", it was investing in same-day emergency care, extra community beds and social care services to "improve patient flow through hospitals".