A PENSIONER “screamed in pain” during an agonising 25-hour wait for an ambulance.
Elizabeth Davies, 93, was forced to lie on a wooden floor with a fractured hip for more than a day before help arrived last weekend.
In harrowing photos shared by her family, the mum-of-three is wrapped in blankets with her head on a pillow on the ground.
She was unable to sleep or use the toilet during the delay, which relatives described as “very upsetting”.
When Elizabeth finally did get to hospital, she had to wait another 12 hours to be moved to a ward for surgery.
Her son, Ian Davies, from Pwllheli, north-western Wales, told NorthWalesLive: “It was very upsetting to have to see her lying on the floor screaming in pain for over 24 hours.”
The Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS), which like all services is under immense pressure, has apologised.
Bosses blamed wintry conditions, high demand and staff sickness.
Elizabeth fell at the care home in Llanbedrog, Gwynedd, she has lived in for more than 17 years.
Staff found her on the floor at around 11.45am on Saturday and quickly called an ambulance.
They were told it would arrive within six to eight hours, but it didn’t turn up until 1.15pm the following day.
Ian, a community carer, said: “I don’t blame the ambulance staff because they are told what jobs to do and my mother wasn’t on the list.
“But I was very upset by what happened, it was unacceptable.
“The whole of the NHS is struggling at the moment and one of the biggest problems is the shortage of carers.
“They aren’t paid enough and no one wants to do the job.”
On the day of Elizabeth’s fall, ambulance workers spent more than 1,600 hours outside hospitals across the country waiting to hand patients over to staff, the WAS said.
Some 563 of these were lost in North Wales, including Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, where Elizabeth was trying to reach.
WAS service manager Stephen Sheldon said: “We would like to extend our apologies to Ms Davies on her wait for help and invite the family to contact us directly.
“Winter pressures coupled with a surge in demand, staff sickness levels and the wider system pressures across NHS Wales has inhibited our ability to respond.
“Extensive hospital handover delays are well documented and has led to some very long waits for patients.
“We are working with partners across Wales to mitigate the pressures as best we can.
“This week will see the second and third day of industrial action which will continue into coming weeks, adding additional pressure.
“The public can help us by only calling 999 in a serious or life-threatening emergency so that our resources are available for those who need us most.”
NO ‘RISKY ACTIVITIES’
Ambulance staff in England and Wales are striking on December 21 in a row over pay and working conditions.
The public have been warned to avoid “risky activities” during the walk-out, which will likely see the NHS hit by further disruption.
Urging people to stay safe, Health Minister Will Quince told BBC Breakfast: “Where people are planning any risky activity, I would strongly encourage them not to do so because there will be disruption on the day.”
The military will not drive ambulances on blue lights for the most serious calls during the strike, but are expected to provide support on other calls.
Some patients will be told to get themselves to A&E or book a taxi, but anyone with chest pains should still call 999.
Negotiations between unions and ambulance services are ongoing to work out which incidents should be exempt from strike action.
It is expected that all category 1 calls, the most life-threatening such as cardiac arrest, will be responded to.
Some ambulance trusts have agreed exemptions with unions for specific incidents within so-called category 2 which covers serious conditions, such as stroke.
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