A 95-year-old woman who was left lying on the floor for 13 hours as she waited for an ambulance had to be given water via a wet tissue by her family before help finally arrived.
Joan Massey, who is blind, was left in fear and agony after she fell at her home in Birmingham on November 23.
After the pensioner was discovered by her daughter Helen Brooks, the emergency services were called at 10.15am
But it was not until 11.15pm that paramedics finally arrived to the property.
West Midlands Ambulance Service have since apologised, and said it is dealing with high levels of demand.
Her daughter-in-law Wendy Massey, 72, said: ‘She was on the ground for more than 13 hours.
Helen Brooks, 95, was left waiting for an ambulance for 13 hours after she fell at her home in Birmingham on November 23
‘Though we have no idea actually how long she was down before that. She does wear a helpline around her neck, but being in the situation she had clearly forgotten she had it.
‘I was in the twilight shift when the ambulance came. She had been found at about 10ish in the morning on the floor, but we have no idea how long she was on the floor before my sister-in-law Helen Brooks found her.
‘Helen rang 999 at about quarter past ten, and was with her the whole time. Obviously Joan was uncomfortable for a lot of that time and wanted to move and needed the loo, which is difficult because in that situation you can’t be moved.
‘She’s a blind lady. So she was in a dark world all that time and not knowing what was happening to her. Her hearing is extremely poor as well.’
Wendy said her husband went up around 5pm – seven hours later – and rang the ambulance again.
She added: ‘He had to feed her some water with a wet bit of kitchen roll because she was in such an awkward position and so uncomfortable. Eventually he used a tea spoon to feed her some sparkling water too as she was really wanting water.
‘Each time we phoned the ambulance they said they were very sorry and that they were busy. We know that and don’t expect special treatment – I understand fully that other emergencies take priority.
‘But 13 hours! We’re actually only about 12 minutes away from the main Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
‘She really looked like a frail old lady at that point. My husband called the paramedics again.
‘They went through the same set of questions, are they breathing etc, are they short of breath etc – and on the second question this time he said yes, because after that long on the floor, she was breathing slower – so whether that moved us up the list I’m not sure.
‘It was about quarter past eleven at night when the paramedics knocked on the door. They were full of apologies, and it is clearly not their fault whatsoever, they are doing their best in very troubled times.
‘They dealt with her very quickly. They checked her over and didn’t think anything was obviously broken. Then they popped out this lilo thing and transferred her – with her screaming in pain sadly, and she isn’t a lady to complain.
‘That’s why to me and the family, the communication between us and the hospital in this case, or lack of it, has been crucial to us.’
Joan’s family said they had to go give the pensioner water via a wet tissue as they waited for an ambulance
Wendy alleges that since being admitted to hospital there had been continual failures in communication between the hospital and the family, leading to confusion over where and how she is.
She said: ‘She can’t contact us. We had no idea where she was. How she was. How she was progressing through the system or anything.
‘Normally a person in her position would have their own phone, so the nurses in the wards not picking up their phone is okay, but because of Joan’s situation she obviously can’t tell us where she is – so it took us a while to find her.
‘She has since had an X-ray to see if anything is broken, which happened on Thursday, and apparently the doctor was supposed to call on Saturday, but nobody has yet.
‘Because the results have to be read by a doctor and not a nurse, we’ve not heard anything yet – even though it’s been days since she was admitted.’
Joan has since gone through treatment and her daughter Helen is in contact with the hospital on her condition.
When Joan arrived at the hospital, doctors apparently discovered she was suffering with a urinary infection, which is a common cause for falls among particularly elderly people.
Wendy added: ‘She wasn’t really eating and wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Which are all quite typical symptoms for a urinary infection apparently.
‘She’s now been given painkillers and a drip to rehydrate her and she is improving I think.
‘She did have a delusional moment on Saturday apparently where she wasn’t sure where she was due to the dehydration, but the hospital has said they might be able to move her to a single bed room soon so one of us can visit her.
‘Currently, we can’t go and be with her which is distressing for her.’
Wendy added that while some people might question whether Joan was too vulnerable to live alone, her circumstances mean it’s more fitting for her.
She said: ‘People might ask too why a lady that age lives alone, with the family coming over every day – sometimes twice a day – and with her living on the ground floor of her house there weren’t any issues before now.
‘Not to mention her being blind, she knows where everything is in her home. If you up and moved her, she’d be totally disorientated.’
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: ‘We would like to apologise to Mrs Massey and her family for the delay in responding.
‘Unfortunately, the whole of the NHS remains under severe pressure which is being felt intensely in our service in the West Midlands; hospital handover delays unfortunately mean patients are waiting longer for an ambulance response.
‘Unfortunately, we were also dealing with high levels of demand from people with life-threatening conditions.
‘We are working with all local partners across the health and care system to reduce delays so crews can respond to the next incident as quickly as possible and staff and volunteers continue to work tirelessly to respond as soon as we can.
‘We are continuing to bolster frontline and control room staffing and have introduced a number of measures to help manage pressures in the service.’