Elderly woman waits two hours for ambulance despite seven calls to 999

An elderly woman was left waiting for two hours for an ambulance after falling outside a supermarket.

Staff and worried onlookers at Sainsbury’s in Tanners Lane, Barkingside, called 999 seven times before paramedics arrived last week.

A member of staff, who did not want to be named, said: “They didn’t come for two hours but another time when an elderly man was ill they arrived within seven minutes.”

Shopper Phillipa Land, who saw staff waiting for paramedics, branded the wait “disgraceful”.

A London Ambulance Service spokesman said the first call came in at 1.20pm but paramedics were not sent until 3.10pm, arriving at 3.20pm.

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She added: “She was reported to be alert and breathing normally and so the incident was not categorised as a life-threatening emergency, and unfortunately ambulances were also needed for other incidents in the area.

“The lady was checked over but was found to be uninjured and was taken home at her request.

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“We are very sorry that we were unable to respond more quickly.”

The target arrival time for even the least dangerous incidents is to get to 95 per cent of injured people within half an hour.

But in Redbridge from April to September, only 64 per cent of patients saw ambulances arrive in that time, making the borough one of the slowest in London.

For more serious category C1 calls, 73pc of people were reached by paramedics within 20 minutes - way below the 95pc target.

A spokesman said the ambulance service was “committed” to improving response times to non-urgent calls across London.

Life-threatening calls to people in cardiac arrest or with stab wounds, for example, are prioritised and ambulances aim to arrive within eight minutes.

The most recent figures for August show the 75pc target was met in Redbridge but at other times this year it has fallen to 71pc.

Until April 2011, paramedics had three categories of calls – immediately life-threatening, serious but not-life threatening and not serious or life-threatening – but the middle category was removed.

Have you waited too long for an ambulance or resorted to taking someone to A&E in Redbridge. Let us know what happened by calling 0208 477 3810 or email zjan.shirinian@archant.co.uk.

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