Apology after Horsham woman’s 35 minute 999 wait

Ambulance SUS-140514-133750001
Ambulance SUS-140514-133750001

A Horsham woman who waited 35 minutes for a paramedic after dialling 999 has branded response times ‘ridiculous’.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) has apologised following the incident on Friday (May 16).

Kathleen Turnbull, 70, of Bennetts Road, called the emergency services after her neighbour fell over in the street at around 10.30am.

Mrs Turnbull and passers-by sat with the woman who appeared to have injured her leg.

It took SECAmb more than 30 minutes to get to the scene and Mrs Turnbull said she was told that there was only one ambulance serving Horsham that morning.

“It’s ridiculous we have to wait all this time,” she said.

“That’s outrageous. They’re building houses around the corner but we haven’t got enough hospitals and ambulances for the people.

“Something needs to be done, and everyone’s feeling the same.”

SECAmb explained that it was ‘extremely busy’ at the time of the call and would normally aim to get to such an incident within 30 minutes.

A service spokesman said: “We take any concerns raised about the service we provide extremely seriously.

“Based on the information provided by the caller this call was categorised as a non-life threatening, category C call, which we aim to attend within 30 minutes.

“Unfortunately on this occasion it took us approximately five minutes longer than that to attend.

“ A paramedic in a car attended the scene and the patient was able to be assessed and treated without the need for hospital treatment.

“We appreciate and are sorry that the patient would have been in a fair amount of discomfort and pain but unfortunately we were extremely busy at the time of the call and have a duty to prioritise life-threatening emergencies.”

The spokesman went on to explain that the service’s vehicles cover an area wider than Horsham including Crawley, East Grinstead, Gatwick and Horley.

He said occasionally demand on the service is higher than expected.

“It is not the case that one ambulance was serving Horsham at the time we received this call,” he stressed.

“In fact while this call was ongoing we responded to a serious category A call in the town and approximately an hour later another clinician responded to another category A call in the town.”

He added: “The number of vehicles responding across our region varies by time of the year, day of the week and hour by hour.

“There are occasions when our demand is higher than we have predicted.

“However, we always look to respond to all calls as quickly as possible and we are sorry when it sometimes takes us longer than we would like to reach a patient.”