Cornwall: Man critically ill after waiting 15 hours in rain for an ambulance

A man is critically ill in hospital after being left in the rain over night for 15 hours while waiting for an ambulance. 87-year-old David Wakeley’s family tried to shield him from the elements with a tarpaulin and umbrellas after being told not to move him.

[Liz Truss personally supported cuts to the NHS, arguing the service “cannot be put on a pedestal” in an article in which she also criticised the “inexorable” rise in doctors’ pay. See here.]

Stay safe! – Owl

Neil Shaw www.cornwalllive.com

Retired welder David Wakeley, 87, who has prostate cancer, is fighting for his life as a result of the serious fall and the long wait in the rain. Son-in-law Trevor Crane, 64, told The Mirror : “The system is just broken.

“As a family we know the NHS staff are great and trying their best but you have to ask how things like this keep happening? It just seems like no one cares and no one is willing to fix it.”

David, who lives in the Cornwall village of Indian Queens, was forced to wait on a cold concrete floor in his garden in the wind and rain under a makeshift shelter because there were no ambulances to help him. He had seven fractured ribs, a pelvis fractured in two places, grazes to his head and a bad cut to his arm.

The first call to 999 was made at 7:34pm on Monday night but an ambulance did not turn up until 11am on Tuesday morning – a total of 15 hours and 24 minutes. David’s family improvised after call handlers insisted their dad could not be moved in case they made things worse.

Son Phil Wakeley, 58, and his sister Karen, 61, got help from neighbours. Phil said: “For an 87-year-old man to be waiting that long on a cold, concrete floor, it is not nice I can assure you.

“I got through it by taking it step by step and focusing on dad and what he needed but I kept thinking this would be bad enough if he was a youngster but we are talking about an old, frail man here who feels the cold.

“It was so difficult to deal with but we did the best we could with what was available, it was horrible.”

He said: “We had to try and make the best of a very bad situation so we managed to get some pillows under him but obviously he was in a lot of pain so we have to do it little by little. We kept ringing to try and find out when the ambulance was coming and we just kept getting put off.

“It struck us that although the weather was ok rain was due to come in so we had to adapt as best we could so we got the neighbour’s football goal posts, I found a tarpaulin sheet in the garage, and we pulled that over the goal and made a bit of a tent.

“But it wasn’t enough for the rain so we ended up having to find three umbrellas just so we could make sure he was dry.

“At one stage he was in so much pain I had to massage his back because it was aching so badly, all the time just trying to reassure him and make him as comfortable as possible.

“He has prostate cancer so he has to wear a bag with a catheter so we had to empty that throughout the night and try and keep his spirits up.

“Because he’s old and suffering from cancer he feels the cold quite a bit but recently we got him a heated blanket and I am so thankful we did because I think that got him through the early hours in the end as the temperatures were falling rapidly.

“All the time we were just waiting, hoping, the ambulance would come soon so this man could get the good care he deserved.”

Phil and his Karen stayed by their dad’s side although they insisted their mum Marlene, 82, go to bed. They are now spending as much time as they can by their dad’s bedside in hospital and “hoping and praying” he pulls through.

Phil said: “I can’t criticise the NHS, I think what they do is great, the paramedics that eventually got here were first class. But there is clearly a big problem with the system overall.

“When my mum went to visit him in hospital yesterday she saw about 20 ambulances idling outside, just waiting, what is happening there, it is just not acceptable. We are still in a state of distress and upset about what happened, I was just thinking throughout the night “I want this ambulance to come quick please’, we haven’t even got the anger yet, we are still just so upset about what has happened to dad and are hoping he pulls through.

“We are a very close family and love our dad very much, we just got together and worked as a team to help him the best we could to help when he needed us.

“You hear other people’s stories but when it happens to you it is just so scary. All we could do is focus on dad and make sure he made it.

“We are now just focused on dad, he has had a lot of painkillers put into him, and it is just a waiting game really. We are just hoping he pulls through and hope it makes it full recovery, we are just hoping and praying at the moment but understand this is not going to be a quick fix and 15 hours on the floor will not have helped him.”

Son-in-law Trevor, who himself suffered a nine-hour wait for an ambulance when suffered a blood infection insisted the Government must do more to abate the social care crisis. He said: “The hospitals are just too full, it feels like they just can’t take you in and if they can’t you have to wait.

“The Government need to address this and provide far more nursing home and care facilities so that if someone does need to come it should never be a problem. Right now all we can do is focus on David and just hope he gets better.”

A spokesperson for the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly’s integrated care system said: “Like other parts of the country, our health and care system continues to experience pressure. ’The reasons for this are complex, including high demand for primary and secondary care, mental health services and adult social care.

“Our teams continue to work together to support people who need our care and we encourage people to use the most appropriate service – including your local pharmacy, minor injury units or 111 online – to keep our emergency departments and 999 service available for people with urgent and life-threatening needs.”

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