A pensioner from Middleton Cheney was left lying outside in the rain for four hours with serious injuries because no ambulances were available.
Her family said the horrific experience shows how understaffed the NHS is – and is worried about the future downgrading of Horton General Hospital.
Yvonne Newman spent four hours waiting for paramedics to arrive after tripping over outside her home on Tuesday, September 5.
Family and neighbours waited with her from 2.50pm, when they first called 999, until 7.15pm when the ambulance turned up, holding umbrellas over the 69-year-old woman as it started raining.
Mrs Newman’s daughter Sarah Obrien said: “The first thing the paramedic said to me when they finally arrived was, ‘would you like a complaints form?’
“It was horrifying, terrible for my mum having to lie there for four hours on the concrete.”
Mrs Newman was taking the rubbish out when she tripped over on the path by her house on Leather Lane.
Eventually a neighbour heard her calling out for help, and called 999 for an ambulance. The call handler told them not to move her and to wait for the paramedics.
Four hours went by with the neighbour and other family members waiting with Mrs Newman, including Mrs Obrien, and numerous calls trying to find out when an ambulance would arrive.
They were told other incidents had taken priority but an ambulance would be there soon.
By 7.15pm, it was ‘hammering it down’ with rain and Mrs Newman was very cold despite the blankets, but the paramedics arrived and took her to the Horton.
Doctors discovered she had broken a bone in her leg and her knee replacement was shattered, meaning she had to be transferred to the Nuffield Hospital in Oxford for surgery.
This led to more aggravation for the family as that was delayed by a lack of beds.
Mrs Obrien believes more needs to be done to help the health services.
“We need the Horton functioning properly, not sending people to the Nuffield when they are overstretched,” she said.
Keith Strangwood, chairman of Horton campaign group, Keep the Horton General, criticised the ambulance service for the delays but also issued a warning for the authorities behind the Banbury hospital’s downgrading.
“The transfer of level three critical care from the Horton means people with serious illnesses have to go to Coventry or the John Radcliffe Hospital but we need ambulances to get them there,” he said.
“This will encourage people to say they aren’t being treated very well and this proves there is a problem with the ambulance service.”
There was some confusion over whether East Midlands (EMAS) or South Central Ambulance Service would be sent to Mrs Newman’s aid as her home lies close to Northamptonshire’s border with Oxfordshire.
EMAS was sent in the end and general manager for Northamptonshire and Leicestershire Mark Gregory said: “We are sorry we weren’t able to get to the patient sooner.
“Every 999 call is assessed based on the information we are given and while we aim to get to all patients as quickly as possible those in a life threatening condition have to be seen first.
“We want to provide all of our patients with a quality timely response; however, during high demand patients with minor injuries may experience delays and for this we are sorry.”