999 crew took nearly four hours to attend injured woman in street

A stranded woman was showing signs of hypothermia after being left slumped on a city centre street in excruciating pain for three and a half hours waiting for an ambulance.
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The desperate woman, believed to be in her 30s, tripped on St Mary’s Street and sustained a suspected broken collarbone.

But despite a number of 999 calls from numerous members of the public, paramedics did not arrive to treat the shivering woman until three and a half hours later.

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Passersby covered her in jackets following the fall, just after 1pm on Monday, in an attempt to keep her warm, but a passing doctor recognised she was suffering from hypothermia.

Ambulance crew took more than three hours to attend the woman. Picture: ContributedAmbulance crew took more than three hours to attend the woman. Picture: Contributed
Ambulance crew took more than three hours to attend the woman. Picture: Contributed

The wait was even more agonising for the helpless woman as three ambulances with sirens bypassed her responding to higher priority patients.

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Resident Frank Galbraith, 59, said: “She was in distress, unable to move and shivering badly. By 4pm it had started to rain with various people laying jackets on her to keep her warm and dry.

“A Swedish doctor arrived just before the ambulance who said she had a suspected broken collarbone and was showing signs of hypothermia.

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“An ambulance eventually arrived at 4.45pm to take her to hospital but it is absolutely not acceptable for this woman to be laid for that length of time.

“Everyone was shocked at how long she had been laid there for.”

The incident occurred just before an 86-year-old woman split her jaw after falling in Iona Street at around 2.30pm and was forced to wait two and a half hours for an ambulance.

Regulars at The Strathie pub rallied to care for the pensioner until the arrival of paramedics, who were met with ironic cheers at around 5pm.

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Pubgoer Duncan McIntyre said: “She fell on the pavement and split her jaw and she’d also bitten down on her tongue. An experience like this is unpleasant for anyone but this woman was 86 and absolutely distraught.

“We ended up getting her sat down and carried her into the pub to keep warm. She was freezing cold outside and was incredibly shook up.

“Waiting two and a half hours for an ambulance is an abomination. I think it’s atrocious and highlights more money needs to be spent on the NHS.”

Scottish Conservative Health Spokesman has called for action in order to meet ambulance demands across the Capital and the Lothians.

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Mr Briggs said: “It is simply not good enough that there have been two separate incidents in the centre of Edinburgh where people have had to wait three hours 30 minutes and two hours 30 minutes respectively.

“This clearly shows the organisation is more over stretched than ever. It is completely unacceptable for someone to have to wait in pain for such a long time, making an already traumatic experience even worse. It is clear that the ambulance service is under serious pressures with additional issues of also transferring patients between St. John’s and the Sick Kids.

“It’s time SNP Ministers took responsibility for not properly supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service and review what additional resources may be needed to meet ambulance demands across Edinburgh and Lothian.”

The Scottish Ambulance Service has apologised for the delay in responding to the incidents saying crews were experiencing an “exceptionally high level of demand” on Monday afternoon.

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A spokesperson from the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “We prioritise our services to ensure the sickest, most seriously injured patients, including those with immediately life-threatening conditions, are given the highest priority.

“We apologise to these patients for the delay in our response, we were experiencing an exceptionally high level of demand at the time in the area and these patients were triaged as non immediately life threatening emergencies.

“We regret that these patients waited longer than we would have liked and we will be contacting them directly to apologise.”