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November 29, 2010

UK man waits 7 hours for ambulance

By Hazel Slade
Bedfordshire on Sunday

LONDON — A disabled man was left on a hospital trolley in A&E for seven hours while he waited for an ambulance to come around 60 miles from London to take him home.

Wheelchair user Peter Mitchell, 66, wasn't given any food, water or painkillers during his long wait at Bedford Hospital after suffering a fractured kneecap, a bruised ankle and bump on the head in a car accident earlier in the day.

Mr Mitchell finally got back to his Sandy home just after 3am, despite being discharged at 7.30pm, after being told the cash-strapped hospital no longer has the specialist bariatric ambulance in-house through the night.

Mr Mitchell, whose wheelchair was broken during the accident, said: "I was offered nothing. I didn't even get a cup of tea. They just left me in a cubicle and that was it.

"I kept trying to attract attention to get a drink, but I think the staff were just so busy. It was seven hours to wait for an ambulance to take me eight miles.

"I think it's false economy, bringing a vehicle all the way from London to Bedford.

"You don't expect to be at the hospital half the night and I was in a lot of pain and except for the transport people, I didn't talk to anyone the whole time." After 6pm, requests for non-emergency patient transport for Bedford Hospital are routed through Medical Services Ltd central office in London, with a vehicle available in the area to cover Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

A Bedford Hospital spokesman said: "Demand for non-urgent patient transport during the night is usually low.

"In this instance, the locally-based specialist bariatric ambulance was already in use and so another specialist ambulance was dispatched from North London to take Mr Mitchell home.

"The hospital and Medical Services Ltd endeavour to keep patient transport delays to an absolute minimum and apologise that, on this occasion due to high demand for the specialist bariatric ambulance, Mr Mitchell had to wait for a number of hours before being collected.

"We are also sorry if Mr Mitchell felt he was not given adequate information by staff while he waited for transport.

"We would welcome the opportunity to discuss Mr Mitchell's concerns with him directly and would encourage him to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service."

Copyright 2010 Iliffe News and Media Ltd

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