A Salford woman had to wait two days to get treated for serious head injury due to the current NHS crisis with response times.

Dhirna Fakira, 32, said it all started on the Friday: “I had hit my head in a really bad the way, when I fell in my house. I was unconscious for a minute or two and my in laws were on the phone to 999. The person on the phone said the ambulance would take four hours to come to me.”

After waking back up, Dhirna said her condition deteriorated.

She said: “I didn’t think that it was that bad until the evening. All night I was throwing up and had really bad dizziness. I woke up the next morning and my nose was bleeding, so it had obviously bled through the middle of the night. So I called 111 the next day and they advised to go into A+E in Bolton.”

When she arrived at A+E on the Saturday, they did a scan and found bruising on her brain. They said the neuro-specialists that could treat me were based in Salford, however there wasn’t any beds, so she needed to wait for the transfer.

She commented: “I waited till Sunday evening and around about 7pm, when they said they finally had room in Salford and they had booked  an ambulance to take me. I was waiting around all day and got nothing and felt like my time has been wasted because I have a baby to take care of.

“I asked if all they were waiting for was an ambulance, why couldn’t I get a lift myself and the nurses told me I had to get an ambulance as it’s their policy. So I was waiting about 2 hours and had nothing, I chased it up and the nurse said they had a 3 hour window to come.

“It got to 3 hours and I checked again, so they said actually it’s now 4 hours and at this point I was knackered. It was around 11pm, so I checked with the nurse and they said there’s basically no guarantee they can come tonight…they ended up coming at 2pm on Monday, so that is when I got transferred.”

Once Dhirna had reached Salford, she was treated in two days by specialists and released on the Wednesday. She was waiting two days for the ambulance with serious head injury.

She recollected: “I thought well it cant be this serious because they aren’t taking me but then I also thought what if it is serious and they just can’t take me. I was at the point where I wanted to discharge myself as mentally the waiting wasn’t good for me, especially when I trusted their words that they’d be there in 3 hours.”

With the longer waits for patient handovers and response times, urgent funding for the NHS is being demanded all across the UK.

The Director of Operations Ged Blezard said:  “The ambulance service is extremely busy, and while we recognise this means some patients are experiencing a delay in receiving an ambulance, our staff are working extremely hard to ensure that everyone who needs an ambulance gets one.”

According to the NHS’s statistics the average response time in November 2021 was 46:37 minutes,  meaning the standards of 18 minutes were not met.

Gled Blezard stated that: “Since April, we have received 15 per cent higher call volumes to our 999 call centres compared to the same period in 2019. In addition, our highest priority (category 1) incidents were 26%  higher this October than two years ago. However, we are taking fewer patients to hospital. Only 53% of patients we deal with end up in the emergency department compared to 58% pre-pandemic.

“To help us further, we are increasing the numbers of ambulances available by utilising some of our Patient Transport Service staff and with the support of private providers. We are also taking on additional call handlers and clinicians in our 999 call centres.”

The increased delays are believed to be impacted by staff shortages in the NHS. Many health-care workers have been stepping down from their positions due to the poor working conditions and very long shifts.

Mr Blezard continued: “Hospital handovers are proving challenging while the NHS as a whole is under pressure. We are working closely with hospitals and the wider health systems to mitigate these as much as possible and have implemented a package of measures to review and minimize patient harm, including direct access to specific wards for some ambulance patients.”

With the new funding that has been announced to be put into ambulances, lets hope the response time can lower before we enter the new year.


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