Serious new concerns over emergency health services have been raised after a woman had to wait hours for an ambulance when she fell off her bicycle on an icy road.
Passers-by were left outraged at the length of time the injured cyclist - a woman in her 60s - had to wait for medical help after the accident on Tuesday.
They say it took over four hours for an ambulance to arrive at the scene in Kerves Lane, Horsham. The South East Coast Ambulance service later apologised for the delay which, it said, was around three hours.
The incident is the second within weeks where people have faced lengthy waits for emergency help. In the first, a man waited four hours for an ambulance after he suffered a fall in Horsham town centre.
The South East Coast Ambulance service has been in ‘special measures’ since September 2016.
In the latest incident, passers-by stopped and comforted the woman who was suspected to have broken her leg.
But many later took to social media to vent their shock and anger at the length of time it took for an ambulance to arrive.
One woman said: “Shocking. NHS gone mad. Hope the lady is ok and getting treatment.” And another added: “My gosh this is terrible. Can not believe she was left lying there all that time.” Another said: “This is absolutely shocking, poor lady.”
Concerned resident and former airline captain Tristan Loraine said: “The lady could not be moved because of her injuries and was lying on the cold soaked tarmac that must have been well below freezing.”
He estimated she was there for over four hours and he has now called on Horsham MP Jeremy Quin to take action. In a letter to the MP he said: “This is totally unacceptable. It again also raises the whole issue of having no A&E anywhere near Horsham yet more and more houses are built every day in the growing community.
“The ambulance service should always be prepared to cater for worst case scenarios of weather and demand.”
A spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust said that the initial call was not categorised as ‘immediately life-threatening’. He said a community first responder arrived on the scene in just over two hours and an ambulance crew attended another hour later.
He added: “We are very sorry for the delay in responding to this patient who we appreciate would have been in a lot of pain and discomfort.
“We would like to thank everyone who looked after the patient prior to our arrival. We were extremely busy at the time and have a duty to prioritise life-threatening calls. Lower category calls can have vehicles assigned to them which are then stood down to attend higher category incidents.
“We wish the woman, who was taken to East Surrey Hospital, a good recovery and would invite her or her family to contact us if they wish us to look into these concerns in more detail before reporting back to them directly.”