A stroke victim was left in agonising pain on the floor of his living room after suffering a suspected broken hip as he waited more than five hours for an ambulance to arrive.
Such was the intensity of the pain John McCallum was experiencing, his partner was forced to get a bottle for the 74-year-old to urinate into while he lay on the floor of his house.
His partner, Jane Clarke, told the Evening News that the experience was “like being in hell” and said that someone must take responsibility for John’s “pain, discomfort and distress”.
The wait for an ambulance was so long that our photographer arrived at John’s house in Leith an hour and a half before paramedics, who later arrived to treat John after the Evening News contacted the Scottish Ambulance Service for comment.
The ambulance service apologised for the delayed response and added they will investigate the incident, while health secretary Jeanne Freeman has demanded an explanation and investigation into the delay.
John fell at around 10am yesterday morning after falling while doing physiotherapy exercises, with carers quickly raising the alarm.
At around 10.30am, Jane called 999 and requested an ambulance. One did not appear until 3.20pm, five hours later.
John’s home is just over three miles away from the closest ambulance station in the city at King’s Haugh.
'Five hours is unacceptable for someone his age to be lying on the floor'
Jane added John could not move at all due to the pain the fall had caused due to a suspected broken hip. To help make him more comfortable, Jane was forced to fetch an empty bottle so he could urinate.
Drinking water also proved painful without help from Jane who became more and more distressed pleading on the phone with the ambulance service for assistance.
She said: “We had this call from a paramedic in Glasgow and they don’t want to talk to you, they just read from a script and get a yes or no.
“I am a human being and I am distressed because he is distressed. It is not that type of service I need.
“If you are not breathing then you will be dead before the ambulance service arrives.
Jane added that all she wanted was for someone to take responsibility for John’s suffering and pain.
“I am really annoyed that you have to put up with this service because somewhere along the line somebody has to be responsible and answer for it.
“For the SNP it is Westminster’s fault, and for Westminster it is the SNP’s fault. No-one seems to take responsibility for anything. It is symptomatic of our health system.”
“I am not blaming the ambulance service, they just don’t have enough people. Five hours is unacceptable for someone his age to be lying on the floor.”
Paramedics with the ambulance service are reliant on information fed to them by call handlers who are trained clinical advisors.
By asking questions, call handlers provide a code for the incident which is then given a colour-coded priority which determines the speed of response.
Those experiencing symptoms including chest pains, trouble breathing and bleeding are often pushed to the top of the list, with the rest dealt with later on by paramedics who can receive calls hours after they were first made.
Apologies from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Ambulance Service
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry for the distress suffered by Mr McCallum and his family.
“The delay in this case is completely unacceptable and the Health Secretary expects the Scottish Ambulance Service to provide a full explanation for this delay to her and to Mr McCallum’s family.
“The service will rightly be contacting Mr McCallum to apologise and will also be carrying out an urgent investigation to ensure lessons learned from this case are applied across the Service.
“The service is currently carrying out a national review of demand and capacity which will help to ensure they are working as efficiently as possible and have resources in place to meet both current and projected future demand across Scotland.”
The Conservative’s shadow health minister, Miles Briggs, said the incident was “deeply concerning” and blamed the delay experienced by John on the SNP’s running of the NHS.
He said: “It is deeply concerning that this gentleman has had to wait for an ambulance to arrive, especially considering his previous health conditions.
“Ambulance teams work incredibly hard to reach and treat everyone who has been injured as fast as possible, but under resourcing has left them spread thin.
“SNP Ministers have been in sole charge of our Scottish NHS for the last 13 years and serious failures in workforce planning have led to there not being enough fully trained paramedics.
“No one should have to wait in pain longer than necessary and responsibility lies with consecutive SNP health ministers who have not been up to the job.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “We are very sorry for the delay in responding to this patient. We always aim to triage patients so that those with life-threatening conditions receive the most rapid response. We will be investigating the circumstances fully.”