Apology after fractured spine victim refused trip in an ambulance

thisisoxfordshire: Geoffrey Sharp, who suffered a fractured spine after a fall at his home in Botley Geoffrey Sharp, who suffered a fractured spine after a fall at his home in Botley

A PENSIONER who had fractured his spine says paramedics told him ambulances are for “real emergencies” before leaving him with a neighbour.

Geoffrey Sharp called 999 after a fall at his home in Nobles Lane, Botley, Oxford, but said when the paramedics from the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) arrived, one of them pointed to the ambulance outside and asked him what it said on the side.

The 74-year-old widower said: “He pointed to the ambulance and said ‘what does it say up there?’ “I said ‘emergency’ and he said ‘that’s right, for real emergencies, not people like you who have just had a fall’."

SCAS has since written to Mr Sharp apologising for the “perceived rudeness” of the crew and in a letter confirmed that one of the paramedics involved had already left the trust while the other had been spoken to “to ensure improvement in his future practice”.

The incident happened last August, but SCAS has recently written to Mr Sharp with its response to his official complaint.

Retired Mr Sharp said: “I was in agony, it took me half an hour to haul myself up to my seat to call the ambulance.

“I am sure most ambulance crews do a wonderful job, but these guys just took the mickey.”

He said the paramedics gave him two paracetamol and left him in the care of an elderly neighbour.

He said: “I just assumed they were going to take me in the ambulance.”

It wasn’t until he managed to get an appointment with his GP at Botley Medical Centre, three days later and still in “excruciating pain”, that he said he discovered he had fractured his spine and was referred to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.

Mr Sharp, who lost his wife Glenys three years ago on Christmas Eve, and whose son Danny died whilst serving in the Armed Forces said: “My doctor was furious.”

The pensioner, who is now officially cared for by one of his daughters, Wendy, who lives in Headington, made an official complaint to SCAS.

A spokesman for SCAS yesterday said: “We are sorry to hear that Mr Sharp was not happy with our investigation. However, SCAS aims to provide the highest standards of response, care and treatment to our patients and the community.

“Should Mr Sharp, or any complainant, not be content with our investigation we would encourage them to contact us again so that we may conduct a further review.

“This investigation ascertained that the clinical decisions were appropriate and were made in respect of the patient in conjunction with a doctor and in agreement with the patient at the time.”

Mr Sharp, who worked in finance, disputes that the decisions were made with his agreement.

The SCAS spokesman added: “The ambulance crew have undertaken a full reflection of their actions to identify areas to improve future performance.”

But he wouldn’t say what those areas were.

Comments (11)

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12:30pm Sat 22 Mar 14

my,say says...

The paramedic will not care. Will do it again to somebody else. SACK HIM or HER.
The paramedic will not care. Will do it again to somebody else. SACK HIM or HER. my,say
  • Score: 1

1:06pm Sat 22 Mar 14

mytaxes says...

He/She is obviously in the wrong job should be dismissed.
He/She is obviously in the wrong job should be dismissed. mytaxes
  • Score: 2

2:12pm Sat 22 Mar 14

Wolkshausen says...

Two of my patients have been inappropriately refused immediate transport to hospital by paramedics. One had apparently suffered a stroke, though further investigation demonstrated an aggressive primary brain tumour, from which she later died. The second had suffered a significant haemorrhage from a duodenal ulcer, with sufficient blood loss to require transfusion of multiple units of blood and urgent endoscopy.
Paramedics appear to be pressurised into not taking people to A/E departments, and to make decisions beyond their competence and experience.
The fundamental problem is the growth in demand upon acute services, both A/E and GP; this will get worse until the wider public accepts either significant funding increases for acute care, or mechanisms to ration access to acute care.
Personally, I would favour charging for attendance, as this would both reduce demand and increase funding.
Two of my patients have been inappropriately refused immediate transport to hospital by paramedics. One had apparently suffered a stroke, though further investigation demonstrated an aggressive primary brain tumour, from which she later died. The second had suffered a significant haemorrhage from a duodenal ulcer, with sufficient blood loss to require transfusion of multiple units of blood and urgent endoscopy. Paramedics appear to be pressurised into not taking people to A/E departments, and to make decisions beyond their competence and experience. The fundamental problem is the growth in demand upon acute services, both A/E and GP; this will get worse until the wider public accepts either significant funding increases for acute care, or mechanisms to ration access to acute care. Personally, I would favour charging for attendance, as this would both reduce demand and increase funding. Wolkshausen
  • Score: 9

3:17pm Sat 22 Mar 14

Oxwatch says...

My father-in-law was refused transport to hospital by a paramedic unless we got a doctor to refer him. Later that day the doctor did refer him - on the point of kidney failure. My mother-in-law was finally taken to hospital on another occasion after we absolutely insisted. She suffered a bad haemorrhage in casualty about 10 minutes after arriving. Paramedics are powerful people who don't know enough.
My father-in-law was refused transport to hospital by a paramedic unless we got a doctor to refer him. Later that day the doctor did refer him - on the point of kidney failure. My mother-in-law was finally taken to hospital on another occasion after we absolutely insisted. She suffered a bad haemorrhage in casualty about 10 minutes after arriving. Paramedics are powerful people who don't know enough. Oxwatch
  • Score: 2

5:47pm Sat 22 Mar 14

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

And yet every Friday and Saturday they can be seen ferrying drunks to and and from the JR on a regular basis. Disgusting treatment of an elderly gentleman and he/she should be sacked immediately for gross negligence or does somebody have to die first ?
And yet every Friday and Saturday they can be seen ferrying drunks to and and from the JR on a regular basis. Disgusting treatment of an elderly gentleman and he/she should be sacked immediately for gross negligence or does somebody have to die first ? Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 6

7:43pm Sat 22 Mar 14

bicesterlady says...

No excuse for rudeness like that to anyone let alone an elderly gent like that. I guess the ambulance service is under a huge amount of pressure.

If the decision was clinically correct, one wonders if the paramedics had explained politely that he didn't need taking to hospital & what he should do what the outcome would have been? I dare say their advice would have been followed & no complaint made.

Austerity measures may hurt & be at the root of this. However manners & consideration cost nothing whatsoever.
No excuse for rudeness like that to anyone let alone an elderly gent like that. I guess the ambulance service is under a huge amount of pressure. If the decision was clinically correct, one wonders if the paramedics had explained politely that he didn't need taking to hospital & what he should do what the outcome would have been? I dare say their advice would have been followed & no complaint made. Austerity measures may hurt & be at the root of this. However manners & consideration cost nothing whatsoever. bicesterlady
  • Score: 2

12:20am Sun 23 Mar 14

RLWaterside says...

I am sorry to hear this has happened to this gentleman, if this is true without a doubt both members of staff should recieve reprimands. I have worked with some fantastic paramedics who wouldn't dream of carrying out such behaviour.

Its saddening to read the above comments regarding Ambulance staff.

The comment regarding his/her patients (assuming your a health care professional) may I suggest you send a formal letter to the service so these cases can be followed up appropriately as this isn't the correct forum.

There is a considerable amount of inappropriate calls to ambulances across the country, this wasn't one.
I am sorry to hear this has happened to this gentleman, if this is true without a doubt both members of staff should recieve reprimands. I have worked with some fantastic paramedics who wouldn't dream of carrying out such behaviour. Its saddening to read the above comments regarding Ambulance staff. The comment regarding his/her patients (assuming your a health care professional) may I suggest you send a formal letter to the service so these cases can be followed up appropriately as this isn't the correct forum. There is a considerable amount of inappropriate calls to ambulances across the country, this wasn't one. RLWaterside
  • Score: 7

3:43pm Sun 23 Mar 14

Quentin Walker says...

Regardless of the true facts of this case, whatever happened to respect for the elderly?
Regardless of the true facts of this case, whatever happened to respect for the elderly? Quentin Walker
  • Score: 3

7:32pm Sun 23 Mar 14

RLWaterside says...

Quentin Walker wrote:
Regardless of the true facts of this case, whatever happened to respect for the elderly?
Absolutely. Here here.
Respect for all patients, clients and service users.
[quote][p][bold]Quentin Walker[/bold] wrote: Regardless of the true facts of this case, whatever happened to respect for the elderly?[/p][/quote]Absolutely. Here here. Respect for all patients, clients and service users. RLWaterside
  • Score: 1

2:10pm Mon 24 Mar 14

sablond oxford says...

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe wrote:
And yet every Friday and Saturday they can be seen ferrying drunks to and and from the JR on a regular basis. Disgusting treatment of an elderly gentleman and he/she should be sacked immediately for gross negligence or does somebody have to die first ?
I'm sure there are lots of people who try it on and take advantage of the system and I think there should be a fine for people who do abuse the system, then they might think twice about calling an ambulance if its not a real emergency. Then there would be more resources availiable for people who really do need them.
[quote][p][bold]Sandy Wimpole-Smythe[/bold] wrote: And yet every Friday and Saturday they can be seen ferrying drunks to and and from the JR on a regular basis. Disgusting treatment of an elderly gentleman and he/she should be sacked immediately for gross negligence or does somebody have to die first ?[/p][/quote]I'm sure there are lots of people who try it on and take advantage of the system and I think there should be a fine for people who do abuse the system, then they might think twice about calling an ambulance if its not a real emergency. Then there would be more resources availiable for people who really do need them. sablond oxford
  • Score: 1

9:56pm Mon 24 Mar 14

bicesterlady says...

sablond oxford wrote:
Sandy Wimpole-Smythe wrote:
And yet every Friday and Saturday they can be seen ferrying drunks to and and from the JR on a regular basis. Disgusting treatment of an elderly gentleman and he/she should be sacked immediately for gross negligence or does somebody have to die first ?
I'm sure there are lots of people who try it on and take advantage of the system and I think there should be a fine for people who do abuse the system, then they might think twice about calling an ambulance if its not a real emergency. Then there would be more resources availiable for people who really do need them.
Couldn't agree more. Not defending the way this gent was treated but possibly having been run ragged prior to his call may well have contributed to what happened.
Ambulances are for life threatening emergencies or those that need specialist transport. If less people abused them the service would be better able to respond to real emergencies. Maybe then they would have bent able to assist this gent
[quote][p][bold]sablond oxford[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sandy Wimpole-Smythe[/bold] wrote: And yet every Friday and Saturday they can be seen ferrying drunks to and and from the JR on a regular basis. Disgusting treatment of an elderly gentleman and he/she should be sacked immediately for gross negligence or does somebody have to die first ?[/p][/quote]I'm sure there are lots of people who try it on and take advantage of the system and I think there should be a fine for people who do abuse the system, then they might think twice about calling an ambulance if its not a real emergency. Then there would be more resources availiable for people who really do need them.[/p][/quote]Couldn't agree more. Not defending the way this gent was treated but possibly having been run ragged prior to his call may well have contributed to what happened. Ambulances are for life threatening emergencies or those that need specialist transport. If less people abused them the service would be better able to respond to real emergencies. Maybe then they would have bent able to assist this gent bicesterlady
  • Score: 1

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