NHS bosses have apologised to a 73-year-old Stevenage woman who waited five hours for an ambulance after falling outside her garden gate.

The Comet: Bruising on 73-year-old Margaret Shailer's arm after she fell and had to wait five hours for an ambulance to arrive. Picture: Danny Loo. Picture: Danny LooBruising on 73-year-old Margaret Shailer's arm after she fell and had to wait five hours for an ambulance to arrive. Picture: Danny Loo. Picture: Danny Loo (Image: Danny Loo Photography 2017)

Margaret Shailer, of Broad Oak Way, told the Comet she was left lying on the pavement for three hours before her son and a friend carried her inside when she needed the toilet. She then waited there for another two hours.

Margaret said: “I turned to shut the gate, on the uneven path, and I went down like a tonne of bricks. I shouted for help, and luckily somebody saw me.”

An ambulance was called for Margaret at 10.30am, with three further calls made over the next few hours when no help came.

Margaret said: “Luckily they found my son, and he and his friend came and I said I needed to use the toilet.

“I couldn’t go in the road with everyone watching. My son’s friend, who is very strong, lifted me up – and I’ve got artificial hips – and they propped me up and put some blankets around me.

“Then they managed to get me in so I could use the toilet, and then I was sitting on the chair waiting and waiting.

“They kept saying they would phone us about somebody coming, but when they did come they just turned up. Nobody called.”

When an ambulance finally arrived at 3.15pm, wheelchairs and other gear inside made it impossible to transport Margaret.

Paramedics called another vehicle, which arrived in minutes and took her to hospital.

Margaret returned home that evening after it was fortunately found that nothing was broken – but she has put in a formal complaint with the ambulance service following the incident, which happened on November 15.

She said: “That’s a terribly long wait for an ambulance to come, five hours.

“They said it wasn’t a priority because I wasn’t bleeding. Next time I suppose I’ll have to say something else. It’s like you have to lie to people to get something done.”

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust has just adopted new targets under which life-threatening calls should get a response within seven minutes, while those considered least urgent should get a response in three hours or less.

In the trust’s latest Care Quality Commission inspection report, published last year, it was found to be reaching life-threatening patients within an eight-minute target time in 73 per cent of cases – just under the national benchmark of 75 per cent. For less urgent cases, the trust’s corresponding on-time figure was 63 per cent.

An ambulance service spokesman said: “We’d like to apologise to the patient and their family for the distress caused by the wait.

“Due to high volumes of life-threatening calls we were not able to respond as quickly as we would have liked.

“Their concerns are being fully investigated by the Trust and we will be reporting those findings back to the family in due course.”