THE ambulance service has come under fire from a Chorley councillor after two members of his family needed urgent attention.
Coppull councillor Ken Ball says he is going to make a formal complaint about the service’s patient waiting times.
He also criticised its telephone operators, claiming they are not medically trained to make decisions about whether someone needs an ambulance urgently or whether they can wait.
One incident, about eight weeks ago, involved his daughter, mum-of-five Cath Bennett, 47, of Cobden Street, Chorley.
“She phoned for an ambulance, and they said an ambulance would be there in four hours,” said Mr Ball.
“She didn’t wait, she went to hospital. It finished up she’d got pneumonia. The consultant said if she hadn’t come in when she did, she could have been dead.”
In another incident, his wife Nora was in severe pain at their home on Chapel Lane, Chorley.
Coun Ball said: “Two weeks back my wife had a new hip at Wrightington Hospital.
“On Wednesday night, the ball came out of the joint. She was in that much pain, we phoned the ambulance up.
“An operator said it wasn’t serious enough to get an ambulance out.
“She said I’ll get a triage nurse to phone you back and said if you need an ambulance it’s going to be three hours.
I phoned the doctor who said there’s nothing I can do. I told the ambulance service it’s an emergency.
“I phoned back and said if she moves a fraction of an inch she screams in pain. They sent an ambulance out.
“The paramedics were here one-and-a-quarter hours giving her morphine before they could move her. My wife’s still in hospital in Wigan.
“She’s had the ball put back in the socket.
“The ball part had come out and gone up her leg, so it’s no wonder she was in such pain.
“How many more people go through this, I don’t know.
“I’m going to make a complaint. I think it’s absolutely disgraceful.”
A spokesperson for the North West Ambulance Service said; “When a 999 call is received, the level of response is determined by the condition of the patient at the time. We prioritise all calls to ensure we get medical help to patients who have serious, life threatening injuries or illnesses as quickly as possible.
“We apologise if there was any distress caused to the family while going through this prioritisation process, and would like to assure them that if they would like to talk to us about their experience of our service, then we would be more than happy to do so.
“When a person calls for an ambulance, the call is categorised by the Trust’s Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System (AMPDS).
“This is an internationally recognised system that is used by the majority of Ambulance Trusts in this country.”