Crash victim ‘could have died’ after 999 call delay

Jacqueline Jenden
Jacqueline Jenden

An urgent call for re-assessment of the way ambulance chiefs deal with 999 calls has gone out after an injured woman was forced to wait hours on an icy road for medical help.

Jacqueline Jenden, 65, broke her thigh after falling from her bicycle in Kerves Lane, Horsham, last week but had to wait on the roadside for more than three hours for an ambulance.

Her daughter Catherine Ansell, 36, said: “She could have died.” Now she is calling for the South East Coast Ambulance service to change the way it prioritises emergency calls.

“I don’t think you need to be unconscious or clutching your chest for an ambulance to turn up,” said Catherine.

“My mum could have gone into shock, suffered hypothermia or died waiting for an ambulance.

“They need to reassess and check how old the person is and consider the circumstances and conditions of the accident.”

Mrs Jenden, who is likely to have to spend Christmas in hospital because of her injuries, was on her way to feed her and her daughter’s horses at Coltstaple Farm in Kerves Lane when she came off her bike in icy conditions.

Passers-by rushed to help and comfort Jacqueline but were left shocked at the length of time it took for an ambulance to arrive. Others took to social media to express their outrage.

Catherine, who lives with her mother in Rusper Road, Horsham, had been at work at Gatwick Airport when she received a call to say that her mother had been injured.

She rushed from work at around 1pm after getting the call, but said the ambulance did not arrive in Kerves Lane until 4.30 pm.

She said it also took a first responder two hours to arrive after the first call for help went out.

When the ambulance finally turned up, said Catherine, a paramedic apologised but, she said, “it isn’t really their fault. They are told where they have to go.”

Horsham’s MP Jeremy Quin has hit out at the delay as ‘unacceptable’ and has raised concerns with South East Coast Ambulance service chief executive Daren Mochrie. He is to meet up with him in January.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb)said:“We can confirm that we were called at approximately 1pm to reports a woman had slipped from a bicycle in Kerves Lane, Horsham. We are very sorry for the delay in responding to this patient who we appreciate would have been in a lot of pain and discomfort. We would like to thank everyone who looked after the patient prior to our arrival. We were extremely busy at the time and have a duty to prioritise life-threatening calls. Lower category calls can have vehicles assigned to them which are then stood down to attend higher category incidents. We wish the woman, who was taken to East Surrey Hospital, a good recovery and would invite her or her family to contact us if they wish us to look into these concerns in more detail before reporting back to them directly.”