A 71-YEAR-OLD pensioner who suffered a horrific head wound after falling at home says he is disgusted after being told he would have to wait eight hours for an ambulance.

Alan Shaw, of Godric Road, Witham, got out of bed at about 4am last Tuesday, when he fell and cracked his head on a bedside cabinet.

Alan said: “I don’t know whether I lost consciousness, but it seemed a few moments and then I felt my face was wet.

“Blood was streaming down my face into my right eye. I managed to get off the floor, giddy and dazed, and made my way to the bathroom, followed by my wife.

“She attempted to clean me up and staunch the bleeding but instead fainted, falling to the floor.

“I managed to wash the blood from my eye and rang for an ambulance only to be told there could be an eight-hour wait.

“My wife came round a few moments later and between us we managed to clean me up further.”

Alan had two gashes on the top of his head, one of which was an inch long.

Wife Bridget, 62, tried to apply a dressing but there were none big enough.

The couple waited three hours before receiving a follow-up call from the ambulance service, telling them no ambulances were available and advising Alan to make his own way to Broomfield Hospital – ten miles from his home.

He said: “If it had happened on a Friday or Saturday night then I could understand but we’re talking about four o’clock on a workday night.

“As far as I’m aware there was no serious incident elsewhere. Taking me to hospital should have been routine.

“Against my advice but at the insistence of my wife, she drove me to hospital. When I arrived, the triage nurse asked why it had taken almost four hours between the accident and my arrival at hospital.

“When I told him, he was appalled at the ambulance service for their treatment of me.

“Given the extent of the injury I was given a CT scan and my wounds were treated some five hours after arrival and eight hours after the accident.”

“If the Essex Ambulance cannot service a solitary request, what on earth would happen if there was a major incident?

“I feel disgusted and let down by this division of the NHS.

“To expect a 71-year-old pensioner to make his own way to A&E with a head injury shows a total lack of care, and indifference to the plight of an injured person.”

He added: “When you’re unwell you’re seldom in a position to challenge decisions. I wish to God that I had asked how many ambulances they had in their team and how many were deployed.”

The ambulance service has now apologised to Alan.

A spokesman said: “The East of England Ambulance Service Trust would like to apologise for the distress caused to a patient waiting for an ambulance on July 30.

“The call to attend this patient was received at a time when we were experiencing extremely high demand, and we had to prioritise patients with life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

“This unfortunately meant that some people who did not have life-threatening cases may have experienced longer waits.

“We do understand however that these situations can be stressful for patients and their families and again, we are very sorry.”