Mum from Northampton deemed ‘not an emergency’ by ambulance service after falling down the stairs and blacking out in front of young son

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS)
East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS)

A mother who blacked out and broke her ankle when she fell down stairs had to take herself to hospital after the ambulance deemed her not an emergency - despite having a history of brain injury.

Nicola Moore phoned friends and neighbours for almost an hour before reaching someone to help her after she fell down the stairs at her home in Acorn Close in St Crispins.

She said that she had been carrying some toys with her son, James, aged 5, down the stairs at around 7am when she slipped and fell, banging her head.

The 42-year-old said: “I head-butted the wall and blacked-out and didn’t come round until I reached the bottom of the stairs and my son was slapping me to wake me up.

“I couldn’t walk so I shuffled myself across the floor to the phone and called an ambulance.

“I explained what had happened, told them I was on my own and that I was concerned about my head because I had suffered a brain hemorrhage a few years ago.

“But I was told that I wasn’t classified as an emergency and that I should go to my GP.

“When I said that a GP would only send me to the hospital for an x-ray, I was told to call a taxi and essentially just hope that the driver would come to the door to help me.”

It was past 8am before Mrs Moore managed to get into contact with a neighbour, who helped to pick her up and take her to Northampton General Hospital.

She said: “Staff at the hospital were swift and attentive sorting me out when we arrived and it turned out I had broken my ankle in two places. But I was shocked at the response from the ambulance service call handler.”

East Midlands Ambulance Service responded that the lack of ambulance attendance was due to limited resources coping with high demand.

Blanche Lentz, EMAS general manager for the county, said: “As with all UK ambulance services, we have experienced a significant increase in demand with thousands more calls being received than the same period last year putting significant strain on our service.

“Our call takers use the information given to them over the phone to prioritise our calls so that we get the right response to the right patient within the right time.

“We are sorry Mrs Moore’s experience wasn’t of the high level all of our patients should expect.

“We are always looking at ways to improve our services, and we welcome all feedback from our patients, whether positive or not so good.”

Despite Mrs Moore’s experience with the ambulance service, she said she was lucky to have her son there, who took care of her, having hadlessons in first aid at nursery.

She said: “My boy was amazing. He helped move me to the living room and put a pillow under my head.

“Without me telling him to, he fetched a bag of peas from the freezer to put on my anckle, brought me a glass of water and then phoned my mother-in-law when we were on the way to the hospital.

“I couldn’t be more proud of him.”