AN ELDERLY man was told he could wait 'up to 17 hours' for an ambulance after falling on ice in Kirkby Lonsdale. 

According to members of the community, the man fell over walking down the path between Jingling Lane and the River Lune in the early afternoon on Saturday.

He sustained a suspected broken hip and needed urgent assistance to get him off the path to somewhere he could be treated but when local doctor Jane Willoughby called North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) she was told he could have to wait up to 17 hours.

Dr Willoughby said tshe attended the scene after a friend called her when the accident happened. The doctor, who works in sexual health clinics in Lancaster and Morecambe, put out a request on a community Facebook group as a last-ditch attempt to get a stretcher or a plank of wood to lift the man.

Josh Ducie, the managing director of Blueline Medical Service, spotted the post. He picked him up in a private ambulance and drove him to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI). He said that the patient was then handed over to the A&E staff. 

The Westmorland Gazette approached NWAS for comment but was told to refer to previous statements related to operational challenges during winter. NWAS had been under pressure even before the paramedic strikes on Wednesday.

NWAS claims that between December 2021 to February 2022, it received just under 376,000 calls to the 999 service.

It continued: "Our emergency call handlers can receive over 4,000 calls to our 999 service on a daily basis which can increase over the winter months."

It asked the public to only dial 999 for life-threatening illnesses and injuries and to contact 111 online for urgent injuries or illnesses.

However Dr Willoughby said: "I am not sure if he would last 17 hours on the pavement. I think clearly this is how it is - it was quite an urgent case. 

"They said the wait is up to 17 hours so you do not know he would have waited if he had other conditions."

Dr Willoughby said A&E departments and the ambulance services were struggling because they do not have 'any more room.' People who should be in social care have to wait in A&E, she said.

In September, the chief operating officer for Morecambe Bay Trust Scott McLean conceded: "It is a fact that our hospitals currently have 25 to 30 per cent of beds occupied by citizens who should be receiving care in a community setting - ideally in their own home. This does cause issues with the running of our acute hospitals and community health services."

Dr Willoughby praised the community for its response. She said: "There were lots of people helping, and we just did what anybody would do."