A terrified mum who called 999 when her toddler had a seizure was told an ambulance would take eight hours to arrive. Georgia Faith Johnson bundled two-year-old Tobias into the car to go to the hospital, but when he went “floppy” she was told to monitor him on the side of the road.
“It just petrifies to say the least that my lifeless two-year-old was not enough of an emergency to get the help of the ambulances. The cuts to the NHS are just so scary.”
Ms Johnson said she called 999 when Tobias’ eyes rolled to the back of his head and the color drained from his face at their Cardiff home on Monday evening.
She said the 999 call handler told her to get to the hospital immediately – but said there were no ambulances available.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said she was sorry and called it “unacceptable”, while the Welsh Ambulance Service said it was under extreme pressure, according to the BBC.
Ambulance waiting times in Wales have reached a joint all-time record low.
In September, only 50% of red (life-threatening) calls to the ambulance service were reached within the eight-minute target time.
The problem is not limited to Wales. Ambulances have been seen queuing outside A&E departments, in part because a social care crisis means patients no longer needing hospital care are being kept in beds because there is nowhere else for them to go.
She told the BBC the call handler said: “You need to get him out of the car, lay him flat and ask somebody to get a defibrillator in case he goes into cardiac arrest.
“At this point I was just crying and begging: Please just send an ambulance to which she was responding it would still be a five-hour wait at least.”
Two passersby stopped to help, an off-duty firefighter and a woman trained in first aid who helped put the toddler in the recovery position.
Tobias spent an hour lying on the side of the road before a passing ambulance stopped and took him to A&E.
The little boy had to be sedated for 19 hours before being sent home the following evening.
Ms Johnson said: “What is really scary is, if I lived in a rural area and actually could not get him into the car and waited those eight hours, my son would have been dead.”
“To think that what happened to my son and I is looking at becoming the norm in Wales is just incredibly sad and worrying.
“Not just for people like us but for the staff of the NHS too who are working under immense pressure as it is.”
The Welsh Ambulance Service said it was very sorry about the distressing experience.
It said prolonged hospital handover delays were seriously affecting its ability to reach patients quickly.
NHS England data shows the average ambulance response time for the most severe category of emergencies was 9 minutes 19 seconds – above the 7-minute target.
For high-priority events like strokes and epilepsy, the average wait was almost 48 minutes. The target is 18 minutes.