A boy was left crying in agony at his New Addington home after waiting in vain for more than an hour for an ambulance to arrive. Scott Thorpe broke his toe when a concrete bollard collapsed on his foot – but when his dad called 999 for help the response was painfully slow.
In the end parents Anthony Bailey and Maureen Thorpe, both 50, were forced to beg a neighbour to come to the rescue and drive the 10-year-old to hospital.
Furious Anthony has complained to the London Ambulance Service (LAS) about the poor response – but has been told paramedics had to give priority to more serious calls.
The dad-of-two said: “I think it's disgusting. For a boy that age to be distressed and in pain like he was is disgusting.
“I waited and waited. I waited an hour and ten minutes and nothing arrived. He was crying and shouting out, rolling around in the chair saying: 'Help me dad'.”
The youngster was hurting so much, that when his dad finally did manage to get him to hospital he was plied with morphine to ease the pain.
Anthony said: “The toe was swollen up and had gone blue. The person on the phone said it was the wrong time of day to have an accident.
“They asked: 'Can you get a cab?' I said: 'No I can't afford it'. I couldn't do anything.”
With neither of Scott's parents able to drive and no neighbours initially on hand to help he was left stranded.
And the family insist they are too cash strapped, with Anthony being on sickness benefit, to pay the expensive fare to Mayday Hospital.
The accident happened at about 5.30pm on May 2 near tower blocks at the top of Lodge Lane where Scott and his friends were playing.
His dad persuaded a neighbour to drive him to the minor injuries unit at Parkway Medical Centre.
There Anthony was told the injury was so serious his son needed to go to hospital.
But once home the neighbour who had helped could not take them because she had to look after her own children. So Anthony called an ambulance at 5.50pm – and more than an hour later they were still waiting for help at their home in North Downs Crescent.
Eventually, another neighbour came home from work and took the Wolsey Juniors pupil to hospital.
But his dad is fuming at the response.
A spokesman for the LAS confirmed an ambulance would have reached Scott, but that there were other people in more urgent need of help.
He said: “Our records show that we were unable to send an ambulance immediately because all of the crews in the area were already responding to other 999 calls.
“Having established that the injury was definitely not life threatening, one of our clinical advisers contacted the family and suggested that the boy could be given painkillers before the ambulance arrived.
“However, we were subsequently advised that they would make their own way to hospital.
“His family have been in touch with us and we will be providing them with a full response in due course.”
Please feel free to discuss the difference between an ambulance going to someone with a heart attack, and someone with a broken toe. Consider the limited resources that prevent an ambulance on every street corner. You may be amazed to hear that our Priority dispatch system does sometimes work…
(Cheers BWTS and ParamedicUK)