Pensioner fell out of wheelchair in Northampton and waited seven hours for ambulance crew

Graham and Carol Cockings

Graham and Carol Cockings

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A disabled man who fell from his wheelchair at his Northamptonshire home waited seven hours for an ambulance crew to pick him up.

Graham Cockings, aged 71, who has a neurological condition that means he canot move his legs, slipped out of his wheelchair at 4pm on Monday and lay on his back until 11pm.

His wife, Carol, who found him on the floor at their Great Doddington home, said: “It was terrible because he couldn’t even have anything to eat in all that time.

“The paramedics were brilliant when they arrived but what I’m shocked at is that I’d expect a long wait on Friday and Saturday night when people were out in town, not a Wednesday afternoon.

“I just feel they need more ambulances.”

Because Mr Cockings was assessed over the phone by East Midlands Ambulance service as having no injuries, he was rated the lowest priority.

However it is far from clear whose responsibility it is to pick up an elderly disabled man weighing 14 stones who has fallen from his wheelchair, in a timely manner.

Mrs Cockings, aged 67, was physically unable to do so.

And Mr Cockings’ professional carers said they were prevented from moving him on their scheduled visit by company policy because, having not seen him fall, they were fearful of aggravating any injury.

But Mrs Cockings said she is sure responsibility lies with the ambulance service and its lack of vehicles to respond to all calls in a reasonable time.

Mrs Cockings said: “It is consistently taking a long time for the ambulances to respond to call outs and they are frequently having to rely on help from other counties in order to meet demands.

“How bad will it get, if nothing is done about the current service?”

An ambulance service spokesman said: “At the time of the call, and the period after, we were dealing with a high number of patients, many of which had life threatening conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and breathing difficulties.

“As a result, we were unable to dispatch a vehicle to Mr Cockings until much later.

“When paramedics did attend they confirmed he didn’t need to go to hospital and assisted him to get into his bed.

“We understand in the intervening period his carers visited in accordance with their usual visiting schedule. We do not yet know why the carers were unable to assist Mr Cockings.”

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