We’ll take you to hospital . . . right after our lunch
A stricken pensioner says she was forced to wait 40 minutes for an ambulance to drive 320-metres – because paramedics were enjoying their lunch break.
Beverly Jenkins, 73, was knocked unconscious and suffered painful cuts and bruises after she caught her shoe on the pavement and fell face-first into the road.
She was helped by two Good Samaritans but claims she had to wait for 40 minutes before emergency rescue crews got to her.
Ms Jenkins claims paramedics attending the scene – from their station just one street away – told her they could not have left on their lunch break.
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Ambulance chiefs admitted the blunder yesterday – but insisted it was standard policy for non-emergency cases as paramedics on a break “were not technically at work”.
Ms Jenkins said: “I don’t blame the crew – they were only following their instructions.
“But what is the point of having an ambulance and a rapid response vehicle if you have to wait so long?
“I wasn’t seriously injured but they had no way of knowing that – at the hospital they thought it was serious enough for x-rays and I needed stitches on a cut by my eye.
“I was just embarrassed the kind people had to wait around, but when I think it could have been my daughter in my position – I am furious.”
Ms Jenkins, from Warminster in Wiltshire, tripped over while walking around town outside the Bath Arms pub, in Market Place. She knocked herself out and badly cut her face in the fall.
A kind-hearted student helped scoop her up and a woman in a mobility scooter gave up her seat for the pensioner – as they called an ambulance.
But she claimed the ambulance took more than 40 minutes to arrive from Station Road, just 320 metres – and one street – away.
The pensioner said paramedics divulged that they were not allowed to get to her earlier – as they were on their lunch break.
Her daughter Sam Mowat, from London, has now contacted Great Western Ambulance Service and has asked for an explanation over the delay.
Ms Mowat said: “If mum had just had a twisted ankle I would understand but she fell face down in the road and had some really bad cuts and bruises.
“It could have been a lot worse. Now we are just waiting to hear from them about what happened.”
She has also contacted local MP Andrew Murrison, who confirmed he was waiting for a report from the service.
Great Western Ambulance Service claimed paramedics took 38 minutes to reach the pensioner as she wasn’t a category ‘A’ call.
They confirmed it was not policy to disrupt ambulance crews during breaks.
A spokesman said: “The ambulance took 38 minutes and 35 seconds to reach the patient, the expected standard is 30 minutes.
“It wasn’t classed as a category ‘A’ call, which requires an eight-minute response.
“We do not routinely interrupt operational staff during rest breaks. They do a lot of driving and are not paid during breaks so are not technically at work.
“We do put out a message to them for emergency cases and it is up to them to respond,” he added.