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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Cumbrian call to 999 was passed to Scotland

A WIGTON woman was left in agony for more than 90 minutes after her call for an ambulance was put through to the Scottish service – who were too busy to allocate one.

Sarah Whitaker, 41, of Newton Arlosh, near Wigton, had gone out to feed her family flock of sheep, when an over-excited pedigree Ryeland tup ran into her.

“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she recalled. “He ran into my knee, and my knee cap went one way while I stayed upright.”

In agony and unable to contemplate the scramble into the back of their Jeep, Mrs Whitaker’s husband Stan Parry, a self-employed builder, dialled 999.

Explaining that it was not a “life or death situation” but that his wife needed emergency treatment, the call operator took the postcode and details and said an ambulance would be there within an hour.

Mrs Whitaker continued: “It got to well over an hour, and then another half an hour, and I said to ring up and cancel it. It was Saturday night and I knew A&E would get busy, so I said I’d do my best to be bundled into the back of the Jeep.

“Initially they said they didn’t have any record of the phone call, but they rang back and said it had been sent to Wigtown in Scotland.

“It’s a good job it wasn’t a life or death situation – just a pain situation.”

Investigations by The Cumberland News reveal that the initial 999 call was put through to the Scotland Ambulance Service (SAS), rather than the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).

The second call was put through to NWAS – which explained why they had no record of the call – who then contacted SAS to find out where the ambulance was.

However, the Scottish Ambulance Service admitted that high demand on a Saturday night meant that 90 minutes after the initial call, they still had not allocated an ambulance to Mrs Whitaker.

A spokesman said: “All calls are assessed and a response is sent according to medical priority. This call was not an emergency and more serious calls were given a higher priority.

“North West Ambulance Service contacted us before a crew was allocated to respond. We did not dispatch an ambulance to Wigtown.”

Mrs Whitaker said it was “frightening” to discover that no ambulance had yet been dispatched. Mr Parry took his wife to hospital, where she spent two days.

eparsons@cngroup.co.uk

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