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to complain to the ambulance service?

(140 Posts)
lurcherlover Thu 02-Jun-11 22:31:00

I genuinely don't know if IAMBU here, so all thoughts welcome...

I was out walking DDog today with DS (7 months) in his back carrier when my mobile goes. It's DH, who is round at my parents' house as my dad has phoned our house. Dad's had an accident and I need to get there straight away (luckily they only live 5 mins from ours and I hadn't walked far). I get there and find my Dad in absolute agony with what is clearly a dislocated shoulder (the deformity was obvious). He'd tripped and fallen in the garden. My mum was at work (Dad's retired) so he'd phoned our house. He was in shock, grey and clammy, and in unbearable pain. Naturally, we phoned 999 for an ambulance. We were told that as it wasn't a "life threatening injury" an ambulance wouldn't be sent out and we would have to get him to A&E ourselves. If we didn't have our own transport, a "non-emergency ambulance" (ie the minibuses they send out for little old ladies to go to the chiropodist in) would be sent in approximately 2-4 hours' time. So we had to virtually carry my Dad to our car between us and drive him to hospital, with him groaning in pain.

I was fuming - my Dad was in agony, and paramedics would've been able to give him morphine (which the dr did as soon as we got there). Plus, I was worried the injury wasn't stable, and putting him in the car to drive to hospital might do more damage. Added to this the fact that luckily DH wasn't working today - if he had been, I would have had to somehow get my Dad in the car by myself, then get him and DS out at the other end. So I'm thinking of complaining and saying an ambulance should have been sent. Opinions please?

activate Thu 02-Jun-11 22:33:12

The ambulance service absolutely did the right thing - it was not an emergency - have you gone quite mad?

Nixea Thu 02-Jun-11 22:35:36

I know it seems really hard at the time and is far from being a desirable situation but the truth is there just aren't enough ambulances to deal with anyone other than a real "emergency" now.

I'm sorry your Dad was in pain and that you struggled though - hope he starts to feel better soon.

janpa Thu 02-Jun-11 22:36:19

I am shocked they didn't help you. When my daft mum walked into a wall in the middle of the night and broke most of the bones in one foot, they came out without delay. As you say, broken bones need stabilising, otherwise, even in terms of budgets, it is not cost effective as it will cost the NHS more to reset what has gone wrong than if they had sent out an ambulance.

Shakirasma Thu 02-Jun-11 22:37:17

I'm inclined to agree with the ambulance service tbh.

They simply cannot afford the time to send an ambulance to everyone who wants one. They are tied up dealing with heart attacks, strokes, car accidents and other life threatening stuff.

Of course your poor dad needed urgent medical care but his condition was not such that he needed emergency paramedics and a blue light race to the hospital.

Nixea Thu 02-Jun-11 22:39:53

I also wonder if maybe it depends on the time you call. ie. some people will get ambulances out for non life-threatning injuries if there are no other incidents taking place. I'm completely guessing there though - it could just as easily be a blanket policy.

Salmotrutta Thu 02-Jun-11 22:39:53

You're joking right? I really hope so.
You called 999 for a dislocated shoulder?
I have called an ambulance twice - both times involved unconsciousness/passing out/fitting when no-one knew what the hell was going on.

Shakirasma Thu 02-Jun-11 22:40:48

Janpa, the patient didn't have broken bones, they had a dislocation which, although excrutiatingly painful, does not carry the same risk of serious damage as a break.

If it had been his hip then they would have come out as he would have been physically incapable of getting to the hospital any other way.

cleverything Thu 02-Jun-11 22:43:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AuntiePickleBottom Thu 02-Jun-11 22:43:30

yabu it wasn't a life threatening condition that needed an ambulance

Icelollycraving Thu 02-Jun-11 22:46:35

I can understand that you were very worried but I see ambulances purely for life or death situations,or for a baby etc so I think yabu. Resources are so stretched now that it is an emergency service only & not a free form of transport.
Yanbu for worrying about yr dad though,hope he is feeling better soon.

TheFantasticFixit Thu 02-Jun-11 22:46:53

The ambulance service were right. As much as I sympathise with your poor Dad, it wasn't a life threatening injury. The ambulance that you wanted him to use would have been diverted from assisting someone suffering a stroke, heart attack or serious bleed. Those calls are a lot more common than you would think. You had the transport to take your Dad and that was the right thing to do - it wasnt a 999 call I'm afraid. On another note, I doubt paramedics would have given your Dad morphine for that; in fact, it's my understanding that only 'advanced', senior paramedics are able to administer morphine, and they tend to be lone emergency rapid responders rather than ambulance crew....

AnyoneforTurps Thu 02-Jun-11 22:49:10

Well I'm a former A&E doctor and I'm amazed. While a dislocated shoulder may not be life-threatening, it is extremely painful and can cause complications (e.g. nerve injury) if not treated promptly. They are also easier to reduce (re-locate) if treated asap. I'd say that at least 50% of the people I treated in A&E with dislocated shoulders got there by ambulance.

Hatespinkcantcook Thu 02-Jun-11 22:49:26

Having just come back from rural France where my beloved young fit mother had a serious heart attack and had to wait an hour for an ambulance which was staffed by firemen with basic first aid skills! We then had to wait for a doctor to arrive before any treatment was given. It took two hours altogether to get her to hospital where the subsequent treatment has been good though.
I WILL ALWAYS BE THANKFUL FOR THE NHS ps I am sure they would have sent an ambulance if he had no other way to get there.

alistron1 Thu 02-Jun-11 22:50:43

I know dislocated shoulders are painful and I do feel sorry for your dad, but it wasn't really an ambulance job.

One of my kids got run over a few years ago and that was a proper ambulance job, they needed emergency medical treatment asap 'cos they had life threatening injuries - we had blue lights and a police escort. Not an experience I want to ever repeat, but IMHO the scenario ambulances are there for.

ReadyToDrink Thu 02-Jun-11 22:50:43

YANBU to have phoned. My dad works in the emergency services & he always says to phone for anything like that - the worst that'll happen is they tell you no. Unfortunately, with cuts all over the place, they'll increasingly tell you no. It's not the fault of the call operator or the paramedics - YABU if you are blaming them - but sadly this is just the situation now. YANBU to be disappointed by that, but as it happens you did manage to get him to the hospital on this occasion. I hope your dad's feeling okay now.

clemetteattlee Thu 02-Jun-11 22:51:40

We would have offered entonox first but if your dad was still in pain all paramedics are qualified to give morphine.
It must have been a busy time, I have been to plenty of dislocated shoulders on 999 calls, but they are category B calls and so take less of a priority than something life-threatening.
Just to say, though, that a non-emergency ambulance is still an ambulance (not a patient transfer vehicle) with the same crew, just available when all the life-threatening calls have been dealt with.

VforViennetta Thu 02-Jun-11 22:52:55

I don't think YABU, I broke my leg as a child and it wasn't life threatening but I certainly needed an ambulance. How exactly are you to assess if your Dad had any other non obvious injuries?

Obviously some people take the piss, but any serious injury would warrant an amblulance.

Salmotrutta Thu 02-Jun-11 22:53:32

janpa - broken bones come with the risk of torn arteries etc. so there is often a need to get someone to hospital fast. This isn't usually the case with a dislocation

Well, I'm surprised. I'd have called an ambulance if I'd found someone with a dislocated anything. I'm not medically trained and would have assumed that they needed getting to a hospital forthwith.

Loshad Thu 02-Jun-11 22:55:19

YABU - i've often taken DS1 to hospital with a dislocated shoulder - no need for an ambulance if you have access to a car - we all have a joint responsibility to keep emergency ambulance use for just that - genuine emergencies.

kw1986 Thu 02-Jun-11 22:55:32

I think they were BU in the sense that how did the controller person on the phone know it was only a dislocation??? For all they knew it was dislocated and badly broken.

I think purely from the humane point of view, you have a potentially elderly man in excruciating pain from a dislocation (and/or break for all you know) and going into shock. They could have sent one of those paramedics in a car to administer pain relief and asses the situation. If it is just a dislocation then perhaps put him in a sling and tell the family to make their own way to the hospital which would be easier as as he would be semi comfortable from painkillers and arm would be supported in a sling.

So if the OP didn't have any transport to get to hospital, was skint to couldnt afford a taxi, was her Dad meant to wait 2-4 hrs for a non emergency ambulance while sitting in agony. That would BU.

millie30 Thu 02-Jun-11 22:56:06

I had to have an ambulance twice for a severely dislocated knee. I'm suprised they didn't send one, hope your dad is ok now.

RitaMorgan Thu 02-Jun-11 22:59:18

Presumably if they'd had the ambulances to spare they'd have sent one.

shergar Thu 02-Jun-11 23:00:18

YABU. Not an ambulance-requiring situation. Painful I know, but not something to blue light into the ED.

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