AN 85-YEAR-OLD woman waited more than a day for an ambulance after having a stroke, before her family gave up waiting and drove her to hospital.

Brenda Eynon, from Abergavenny, suffered the stroke when her sister, Suzanne Peters, called for coffee on Sunday, May 8. 

But at around 4pm or 5pm, Mrs Eynon suddenly couldn’t move her right leg or arm.

“She said my right leg is gone and so is my right arm,” said Mrs Peters. “She started to tip on one side and I was trying to hold her up. I had to put her on the ground carefully as I couldn’t hold her up. But then there would be a problem getting her back up.

“My daughter is a nurse and her daughter is a trainee one, so I called them.

“My sister's face was fine, there wasn’t a droop in her face. I thought it seemed as if she had a minor stroke.

“I phoned the ambulance and explained the situation and that she had minor heart problems. I explained all the symptoms.

“They said it is at least an eight-hour wait time for an ambulance.

“I stayed with her all night. In the morning (Monday, May 9), no ambulance had come.

“The doctor came round, and she said ‘I think she has had a stroke’. She said to ring 999 and explain what happened.

“There’s a limited time where they can give her a clot busting drug. I was again told it was at least an eight-hour wait.

“A paramedic arrived at about 5.30pm. He said the same. I went to phone the stroke unit at the Grange (hospital in Cwmbran). They said the stroke unit won’t take her as it’s over 24 hours which is the time limit for this drug. He said she would have to go to the medical assessment unit.”

Mrs Peters was unable to drive her sister to the hospital, as her car was too low for Mrs Eynon to get in and out of, so she again called the ambulance service – but was told there would be a four-hour wait.  

At around 7.30pm, Mrs Peters called a friend who drove them to the Grange, where her sister was admitted to the medical assessment unit.

“I know there’s lots of complaints about the ambulance service and I understand the pressure they are under, but an 85-year-old with heart problems was stuck in a chair,” said Mrs Peters. “It was degrading for her as she couldn’t get up to go to the loo.

“It was around 26 hours to the last time I phoned. If we had waited until the ambulance came it could’ve been 30 hours.

“If I hadn’t gone round that afternoon she could’ve been stuck on the floor.”

Mrs Eynon is currently in the Grange, having been transferred to the stroke unit.

“They are going to keep her in for two weeks so it can’t have been something minor,” said Mrs Peters.

The Welsh Ambulance Service told the Argus that demand was “higher than predicted” on Sunday, May 8, and there had also been a total of more than 900 hours of delays in handing patients over to hospital on Sunday alone.

Sonia Thompson, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s assistant director of operations for the emergency medical services, said “We would like to apologise to Mrs Eynon for an unacceptable wait for help.

“This is not the service we aim to provide, and we recognise how distressing it is for patients and their loved ones when they face a long wait.

“Demand on our ambulance service was higher than predicted on Sunday, and this, coupled with hospital handover delays – more than 900 hours alone on that day – meant that some patients in the community had a very long wait for our help.

“We are continuing to work with Welsh Government and Local Health Board partners to resolve the complex and long-standing issues across the unscheduled care system.

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“The public can help by only calling 999 in a serious or life-threatening emergency to protect our precious resources for those who need us most.

“For everything else, please think about the full range of options available to you, including the NHS 111 Wales website, which should be your first port of call for health advice and information.

“We would invite Mrs Eynon’s family to contact the Trust directly so that we can better understand their concerns and look into what happened in more detail.”

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