Pressures on the ambulance service meant an 86-year-old man had to lie on the freezing cold ground for more than an hour after he fell outside Tesco’s city centre store.
North West Ambulance Service has apologised to the patient who couldn’t move because he was in pain with what at the time was suspected to be a broken thigh bone.
He is also believed to suffer from high blood pressure and an irregular heart beat.
Staff from Tesco and Peskies cafe waited with the pensioner and kept him warm with blankets until paramedics arrived but were shocked at the delay.
An ambulance was called to Frodsham Square at 1.46pm on Thursday, January 15 and The Chronicle, who were on scene, recorded a lone paramedic arrive alongside the patient 55 minutes later.
Two more paramedics, who arrived in the ambulance which took him to hospital, were with him 15 minutes later. By the time the patient was in the back of the vehicle he had been out in the cold for one hour and 19 minutes.
It later transpired the man had hurt his hip but suffered ‘no major trauma’.
James Westhorpe, co-owner of Peskies, who stayed at the man’s side as he lay on the floor, said: “He was conscious but in a lot of pain and so cold being on the floor and we couldn’t move him because we thought he had broken his leg.”
His wife Sarah said the pensioner went down with ‘such a thud’, adding that his ‘teeth were chattering after a few minutes’ because of the cold. They took the patient’s wife inside and gave her a coffee to help warm her up.
She added: “It’s not the paramedics fault. They’re working with the limited resources they’ve got.”
Jan Stocker, manager of the Quaker Meeting House, which had been hosting shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper MP, went to assist and was ‘shocked’ at the delay but praised the professionalism of paramedics.
Chris Officer, duty manager at Tesco, said: “It’s not an ideal situation for either party, the patient or the medics but it’s unfortunately one of those things because it’s in the news about the NHS being under some pressure.”
A North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust spokeswoman said: “We understand that waiting for an ambulance can be distressing and we are sorry for any upset caused to the patient.
“We received a call at 13.46 on 15 January 2015 to attend to a patient outside Tesco in Chester. A paramedic-manned rapid response vehicle arrived on scene at 14.38.
“The service is currently experiencing an unprecedented amount of emergency ‘999’ calls. Between 15 December 2014 and 15 January 2015, we answered 111,577 emergency ‘999’ calls, an increase of 13.2 per cent compared to the same time period last year.
“Regretfully, there was a delay with the ambulance attending to the patient due to this demand and the Trust apologises for the wait. We would encourage the patient or their family to contact us further to discuss any concerns with the service they received.”