‘Unacceptable’ seven-hour wait for ambulance

Kathleen & Graham Cox with Granddaughter Tonia Cook SUS-140209-104403001
Kathleen & Graham Cox with Granddaughter Tonia Cook SUS-140209-104403001

The family of an elderly man who was left in the transportation bay at the Conquest hospital for around seven hours whilst waiting for an ambulance to take him home after being discharged have spoken of their outrage at the lack of care.

Bexhillian Graham Cox was admitted to the Conquest Hospital on August 9 following an adverse reaction to painkillers prescribed for an ankle ulcer. Granddaughter Helen Spiller said the painkillers rendered him unable to move from a seated position, adding: “Once in the Conquest hospital the situation was quickly taken under control. My Grandfather is nearly 93 years of age, housebound and lives with my 95 year old grandmother. Their daughter, my mother, died three years ago of cancer so my sister Tonia Cook and I take full control of their care with two carers.

“We were contacted on August 12 and told that he was to be discharged after lunch and moved to the transportation bay,”

Helen said both she and Tonia, who lives in London, telephoned the Conquest a number of times to get an estimated time that Mr Cox would wait for an ambulance to take him home. They were told the maximum wait in transportation would be four hours, but says that was not the case. “My sister left London to arrive in Bexhill at 5.30pm. She waited with my grandmother - who was agitated - and phoned several times for updates.”

Helen said the hospital blamed the ambulance service for the delay and at 8.00pm she rang the hospital to complain. She was told that the wait was unacceptable and a complaint would be lodged. “At 9.40pm an ambulance arrived home with my grandfather. He was extremely weak. The ambulance drivers were not able to carry him in so called another team to assist and he was left in the back of the ambulance with the door open. Once inside his home he was exhausted, cold, thirsty and his catheter was full - absolutely unacceptable!

“My family is appalled at the lack of care, communication and responsibility. I contacted the Conquest’s Patient Advice Liaison (PAL) but nobody bothered to call me back.”

A spokesperson for East Sussex Healthcare apologised for the delay Mr Cox experienced, adding: “He was in our discharge lounge with a few other patients and two nurses while he waited for ambulance transport home. During this time he would have had drinks and meals and staff did monitor his catheter. He and his family were kept informed about the delay from the ambulance service in picking him up. A member of our PAL team did try to contact the family but was unsuccessful however they have subsequently spoken to the family.”

Bexhill and Battle MP Greg Barker offered his support to Mr Cox and hopes there won’t be a reoccurrence of his experience. He said: “Most constituents have a very good experience at the Conquest and are grateful for the care they receive. This needs to be fully investigated and I want to be reassured that this won’t happen again.”