Oxford son had to drive to help great-grandmother with broken leg when ambulance failed to show up


The great-grandmother waited over nine hours for an ambulance while “writhing in pain” at the foot of the stairs in her home. Her son, who lives in Oxford, more than 70 miles from his mother, drove to her aid upon hearing the news.

Beryl Murray fell at her home in Birmingham after her right leg gave way as she boarded a stairlift on Tuesday March 22. She was left “in agony” but was able to reach the care line alarm which alerted the ambulance service at around 5.22pm.

93-year-old son Stephen, 68, and his wife Wendy, 64, also received the notification and so traveled 70 miles from their home in Oxford to help his retired mother. Even though the ambulance was called just before 5.30pm, it didn’t arrive until 2.33am – reports BirminghamLive.

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The call was classified as “category two” and it took more than nine hours for the ambulance to arrive. The West Midlands Ambulance Service said the setback was due to ‘hospital transfer delays’, to which the Murray family said the wait time was ‘totally unacceptable’ and said ‘something must change” in order to avoid serious problems.

Daughter-in-law Wendy said: “She had been writhing in pain for nine hours, it was awful to watch. My husband was very distressed to see his mother like this. It’s totally unreasonable for someone from 93 years old and at this level of pain have to endure this for such a long period of time.

“She lives alone and we live in Oxford so we went straight there when we got the call. Luckily a neighbor was able to reach her before us but she couldn’t move her leg at all, she was in agony.

“When we called the ambulance to find out how long they would be, we were warned it could take up to six hours as they were very busy. the ambulance arrived, which is simply unacceptable.

“We just tried to make her as comfortable as possible until the ambulance arrived. She was complaining of pain in her lower back, so we didn’t dare move her. Her color was changing so we were getting really worried. She kept saying ‘I’m in so much pain’ and ‘I have so much pain in my leg’.

“We learned the next day at the hospital that she had broken her leg, which was a big shock. It made the situation even worse, knowing the level of pain she must have been in for so long. Especially , something has to change. People could lose their lives if it doesn’t.”

It has now been a week since Beryl fell and she is still in hospital awaiting leg surgery. The West Midlands Ambulance Service issued an apology to the 93-year-old and her family, saying the NHS was under “severe pressure” as an explanation. They said the patient’s condition had not worsened.

A spokeswoman for the ambulance service said: “We would like to apologize to Ms Murray and her family for the time it took to reach her. The whole of the NHS remains under severe pressure and unfortunately the Hospital transfer delays mean that some patients wait much longer for an ambulance to come to them than we would like.

“A paramedic from our control room contacted the patient to check on her condition. The paramedic would have upgraded the call if her condition had changed. We continue to work with local partners to find ways to reduce delays so that our teams can respond faster. Our staff and volunteers continue to work tirelessly to respond as soon as possible.”

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