Shocking video shows 90-year-old woman lying collapsed on icy ground at night for FOUR hours until ambulance arrives | The Sun
SHOCKING new video shows paramedics attending an emergency call, only to find a 90-year-old woman has been lying on the ground for over four hours in freezing temperatures.
Barefoot and alone, the woman – who pressed an emergency button worn round her neck at 1am and was finally seen by an ambulance crew at 5.17am – is suffering from severe hypothermia as temperatures plunged below zero.
This harrowing scene, seen exclusively by The Sun, is among many disturbing incidents captured on camera by former ambulance worker Daniel Waterhouse, who covertly filmed callouts on his busy shifts for the East of England Ambulance Service for a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary.
Undercover Ambulance: NHS in Chaos – which airs tonight – uses footage shot on hidden cameras through November, December and January, at the height of the winter crisis.
In the clip, the ambulance crew can be heard discussing the ice on the ground before realising the stricken OAP is actually on the ground outside and exclaiming "Oh my God!"
They are also heard calling for socks and saying "she has nothing on her feet" before reassuring her that they will "get you warm."
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'It was amazing she was alive'
Emergency medical technician Daniel, 30, says his first thought on seeing the elderly lady on the ice-covered floor in December was that they were too late.
“When we initially saw her she wasn't moving,” he told The Sun.
“I went over to her to see if she was conscious and her eyes were open and unfortunately it looked like she had passed away. Then she started to move and talk and it was obviously a huge relief.
“She was obviously hypothermic and we had to get her off the ground as soon as possible, after checking her over.
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“It was amazing she was alive after lying on the icy ground for so long. Any longer and the outcome could have been so much different.”
Thankfully, the patient was resuscitated and was discharged from hospital two weeks later, but the long waiting times for ambulances – highlighted by Daniel’s secret filming – mean the NHS is unable to provide crucial care and save lives.
In one scene, a young girl screaming in agony with her knee “popping out” after a dance injury is carried into A&E on a picnic table after her parents were told there was a 20-hour wait for an ambulance.
In another tragic case, a man needing urgent cardiology care after suffering catastrophic heart failure is forced to go to A&E in Watford, rather than going directly to the specialist unit at Harefield Hospital. He died a few hours later.
It was a similar case on one busy 12-hour shift, which finalised Daniel’s decision to take part in the documentary – knowing it would spell the end of his career in the ambulance service.
“Shortly before I was contacted by the production team behind the documentary, we had a patient in his late 50s with chest pain,” he says. “There was a delay in response of over an hour, he went into cardiac arrest after 10 minutes of us being there, and unfortunately, he didn't survive.
“We were only 10 minutes from hospital and if we’d hit our target of under 18 minutes, he'd have been at the hospital at that point, in the relevant cardiac centre, having that clot removed.
“That affected me badly but his story is not unique. We've been missing those targets across the board for a long time and going well and truly above an hour to respond to those category 2 (potentially serious) jobs.”
Whole shifts in queue
Daniel, originally from Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, joined the service in 2020 and says the backlog in overstretched A&E departments meant he and his colleagues were constantly frustrated.
“I spent so much time seeing patients deteriorate and heard so many anecdotes and stories from colleagues about patients who were deceased on arrival,” he says.
“We all experienced entire shifts queuing with one patient on the corridor in A&E, and that patient would then be handed over to another crew who would spend their whole shift waiting with them.
“We were constantly hearing broadcasts over our radios asking for someone to attend time-critical cat one (life-threatening) jobs, and not being able to respond.
“There were a few incidents I attended where patients died as a result of delays or were seriously harmed due to missing treatment windows for a suspected stroke, and those people could potentially be disabled for life.
“I'd had enough- and colleagues were feeling the same.
“Agreeing to the filming wasn't a decision taken lightly by any means. I took a week off to think it over and changed my mind several times.
“But there didn't seem to be any other way to fix this problem other than to highlight it in its actuality. I know that will draw criticism, but I felt strongly about it and decided to do something about it.”
'Hospitals are full'
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) estimates 23,000 excess deaths in 2022 were associated with long waits in emergency departments.
A survey of 1,200 ambulance workers by the GMB union for Dispatches found 52 per cent say they have spent a whole shift outside A&E with a patient. More than half had witnessed a death due to delays.
Adrian Boyle, president of the RCEM, tells the Channel 4 documentary: "The problem is that there aren't enough spaces within hospitals, and our hospitals are completely full."
Dealing with harrowing situations, knowing delays could contribute to death or disability, has clearly traumatised Daniel and he says he’s not alone.
“I'm not sure everyone realises at the time, and it takes time for that trauma to rear its head,” he says.
“But amongst ambulance staff, PTSD and trauma-related mental health conditions are the leading cause of sickness and it is extremely stressful and traumatic for staff members to witness the things we see all the time.”
For obvious reasons, Daniel kept his decision to film for Dispatches secret from colleagues and family, including his parents and grandparents.
He went public after handing in his notice, and East of England Ambulance Service released a statement on the upcoming documentary.
The statement read: "The Trust takes any breach of patient confidentiality and breach of trust between colleagues extremely seriously.
"As a Trust we have been open and honest with the media and public around the challenges the Trust and urgent and emergency care services have faced over the past year."
They told the programme the delays were due to "unprecedented pressure over the last winter and "a significant increase in seriously ill patients," adding: “We have recently seen improvements in response times but our service, alongside the wider NHS, remains under significant pressure."
Since the statement, Daniel says has been overwhelmed by support.
“Some of my family were worried about what it will mean for me, going forward, but I've tried to alleviate those worries and explain that I felt it was the right thing to do,” he says.
“But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the support I’ve had.
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“I feel public opinion is on our side and no one wants to see their loved ones in that situation. I'm hoping what will come across in the documentary is that these are people, not just data and statistics in the news. It could be your loved one, or you.”
Undercover Ambulance: NHS in Chaos is on Channel 4 on tonight at 9pm
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