This shocking picture shows an 83-year-old woman with dementia huddled under an umbrella as she waited nearly THREE HOURS for an ambulance after breaking her leg.
Widow Hazel Baines slipped over on the pavement as she walked home in pouring rain and smashed her left femur.
Passers-by rushed to help Mrs Baines and dialled 999 before putting her on a garden chair and held an umbrella over her head while they waited for an ambulance.
Shockingly, a 999 call handler initially failed to send an ambulance and advised her to get a taxi to the hospital – which was 25 miles away – because they were busy.
But a taxi firm refused to help because they were not insured to carry vulnerable patients who suffer from dementia.
An ambulance was called for a second time but one did not arrive until 7.35pm – nearly three hours after she injured herself.
Mrs Baines fell over as she walked along Harrowby Lane, Grantham, Lincs., last Thursday (6/10) at 5pm.
Witness Jamie Mudie, 26, who helped Mrs Baines after hearing her crying out in pain, said: “I’d just popped outside my house when I heard a woman in pain and saw her on the path.
“I ran over and helped her up but she was too frail to move inside so I called 999 and told them to send an ambulance.
“The lady said she didn’t want an ambulance but I thought she needed one. I told the operator this and they said it didn’t sound like an emergency.
“They recommended I call her a taxi. It was pretty obvious the lady didn’t really know too much about what was going on.
“I called a taxi firm and explained the situation but they said they wouldn’t send a cab because they weren’t insured so I called 999 again and they said they would send one out.
“The rain was really coming down so another neighbour wrapped the lady in a blanket and I put an umbrella over her because we thought an ambulance would arrive very soon.
“At 7.15pm a paramedic car arrived and they checked her over and it was another 20 minutes or so after that when an ambulance took her away.
“The poor woman was freezing cold and very upset by this point. It was really hard to watch.”
Shockingly, when the ambulance arrived at Lincoln County Hospital she was forced to wait a further two hours because A&E was backed-up with other emergency vehicles.
Mrs Baines was finally admitted to hospital at midnight – seven hours after her fall – where she was diagnosed with a broken femur.
Dad-of-two Jamie, a delivery driver, shared images on Facebook showing the pensioner huddled at the side of the road to show his disgust at long wait for an ambulance.
Mrs Baines, who has two grown-up children and no grandchildren, has lived in Grantham, Lincs., ever since her husband John died in 2000 aged 72.
Mrs Baines’ son, Nigel, 54, who illustrates children’s books and lives in Hertfordshire, expressed his anger at the treatment by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS).
He said: “I am sadly shocked, but not surprised. I know she would have told people she is not in pain, but she would have been in terrible pain.
“On top of this on arrival at Lincoln County Hospital, an hour or so from Grantham, she had a two hour wait in the ambulance as they were eighth in the queue.
“She’s recovering from her op but her mental condition appears to have taken another step down.
“Despite her dementia, she is fiercely independent and still lives on her own in Grantham.
“It is very painful for me to think that the health service let her down so badly.
“How anyone can expect an elderly dementia sufferer who has broken a bone in their leg to climb into a taxi and travel an hour away to a hospital is simply wrong.
“The decision to close the A&E department overnight in Grantham is a disaster and the delays in getting patients to hospital proves the health system cannot cope.”
Last month EMAS revealed it was taking an average of seven patients a night to other hospitals following the closure of A&E in Grantham.
In August A&E was closed overnight for three months and there are concerns it will not re-open full-time.
Blanche Lentz, EMAS general manager, said: “In this case, the initial 999 call reported a non-life threatening injury, confirming the patient was alert, sat in a chair and did not want an ambulance sending.
“The paramedic already on route was therefore stood down and made available for a new 999 call.
“A new 999 call over half-an-hour later reported a hip injury and we aimed to get an ambulance to the patient within 30 minutes.
“Sadly, due to high demand and lack of available resource there was a delay for which I am sorry, particularly given the discomfort the patient would have experienced as a result of her injury.
“We’re doing everything we can to improve our service including recruiting 300 more frontline staff this year and investing in new ambulances.
“We continue to work with our commissioners and the hospitals to reduce hospital handover delays allowing our ambulances to get back out on the road to respond to new 999 calls.”