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January 24, 2011

UK woman waited for ambulance for 10 hours

By Ruth Mansfield
South Wales Argus

CWMBRAN, Wales — A Cwmbran woman says she was "in complete agony" after waiting 10 hours for an ambulance when an abscess following an operation to remove her appendix needed operating on.

Tracey Williams, 40, of Fieldings, Fairwater, says she was left waiting until 10.30pm on New Year's Eve after her doctor first called for the ambulance at 12.30pm.

Ms Williams had gone to the doctor at Fairwater Medical Centre after the area where she had her appendix removed from on December 19 became infected.

Her doctor realised that her staples needed removing and the infection and abscess operated on and so told her he would call for an ambulance to pick her up from her home, she said.

He also arranged a bed for her ready at the Royal Gwent.

But despite Ms William's partner, Nigel Wilcox, 47, making around five 999 phone calls during the rest of the afternoon and evening to check on where the ambulance was, one did not arrive until 10.30pm.

The first phone call Mr Wilcox made was at about 4pm, he said.

Ms Williams said: "They said they had been inundated with calls but my stomach pains were really severe. It felt like a volcano was erupting. I was in complete agony and so angry that the ambulance wasn't arriving."

Ms Williams, who had no other means of transport to get her to the hospital, was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital where her staples were removed and she had an operation to clean the infected area and remove the abscess.

She returned home on January 4 but is still visited by a district nurse as she has an open wound which continues to need treatment Ms Williams, who contacted us after seeing our report on Thursday about patients and politicians calling for an end to the delays waiting for ambulances, said: "It is definitely a problem which needs acting on."

An ambulance service spokesman said:"While we cannot comment on individual cases, should the patient or their family wish to contact us directly, we would be happy to discuss the case with them.

"In December the ambulance service received the highest number of calls of any month in the last three years and 4,000 more life—threatening calls than December 2009/10.

"Ambulances were particularly affected by the difficult driving conditions throughout the month. This resulted in delays for which we apologise.

"While recognising the difficulties and the delays we want to thank our staff for working extremely hard in such difficult conditions."

An Assembly spokesman said: "The ambulance service — like the rest of the NHS — is under more pressure than usual, we should be recognising the hard work of NHS staff rather than undermining it.

"We are working with the Ambulance Trust and Health Boards to reduce pressure on the services, improve performance and to speed up responses to those most in need."

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