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Grandma screams in agony for hours – and when paramedics arrived they couldn’t give her morphine

A great-grandmother lay on the ground in agony for hours waiting for an ambulance – and when the ambulance crew finally arrived they were unqualified to give her morphine. Joan Matthews fell at her home in Oxbridge on Tuesday afternoon (June 14), breaking her head off the TV cabinet and collapsing to the floor.

The 79-year-old lay for around two hours, unable to move with a broken hip and thigh, as the family desperately waited for an ambulance to be just around the corner. But when help finally arrived, her family said it was an ambulance from Cipher Medical and, although the paramedics were great with Joan, they weren’t qualified to give morphine. old-fashioned home help.

Relatives say they had to leave the room when she was moved as it was heartbreaking and traumatic to hear her in such pain. Now the family are hoping to raise awareness of the issue as they call for more to be done to prioritize falls similar to Joan’s, which could have devastating consequences.

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The North East Ambulance Service has “wholeheartedly apologized” for the delay, which they say was caused by “a significant increase in demand and a number of delays at local hospitals”. Joan, who has four sons and a daughter, had suffered from leg pain for five to six weeks before collapsing at home.

Having battled cancer eight years ago, Joan had a third of a lung removed and suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), meaning she had trouble catching her breath then. that she was in agony, as daughter Julie Dobbs and stepdaughter Tracy Matthews tried to comfort her.

The family say they called 999 around 3.30pm but an ambulance did not arrive until around 5.40pm. Her son, Colin Matthews, said: “When they came out it was a Cipher Medical ambulance, the two EMTs were lovely but they weren’t qualified to give him morphine. I had come straight from work to see mum and me I quickly went home to shower and change but my wife called me and told me not to come back because my mum was screaming in pain.

“My sister had to leave the room because it was so hard to hear. They took her to the hospital and she stayed in the emergency room until the early hours. took me and at 7:30 p.m. the neighbors called me dad because a normal ambulance had arrived and they were knocking on the door.”



Joan Matthews, with her husband Dennis, and the extent of the damage to her leg after the fall

Joan, who has been married to Dennis, 74, for nearly 50 years, worked as a home health aide and would go above and beyond to provide meals for people on Christmas Day.

“We don’t want to cause any trouble, but the fact that a woman her age, in this pain, had to lie on the ground for hours to get an ambulance,” said Colin, 48. “I mean it’s faster to get a takeaway than an ambulance. The world we live in with the ambulance situation is really scary. You have to look at it. My mum worked all her life, she shouldn’t have to go through this.

His wife Tracy Matthews, who helped lift Joan onto the stretcher, added: “I understand there are people in a more urgent situation than my mother-in-law, but I look after people in the community who have been discharged from hospital after similar falls. You are hearing horror stories and in the worst cases a person could die. They should be higher on the priority scale from the moment that first call has passed.

Arriving at North Tees University Hospital, the injured grandmother waited in the emergency room for hours before finally being transferred to a ward in the early hours of the morning. Joan, who had previously had two hip replacements, has now had surgery and is beginning her recovery, but it is not yet clear when she will return home.

“She’s a very strong woman and she’s been through a lot. She had a third of her lung cut out and the next day she was walking down the hospital hallway,” Colin added.

The family are in the process of filing a formal complaint with the North East Ambulance Service. North East Ambulance Service Chief Operating Officer Stephen Segasby said: ‘We sincerely apologize for the delay this patient has suffered and the distress she and her family have suffered as a result.



Dennis and Joan Matthews, married for nearly 50 years, pictured at their son and daughter-in-law's 25th wedding anniversary party in May 2022
Dennis and Joan Matthews, married for nearly 50 years, pictured at their son and daughter-in-law’s 25th wedding anniversary party in May 2022

“We always aim to reach a patient as quickly as possible to provide treatment and/or transport to hospital. Unfortunately, while this patient was waiting for an ambulance, the service experienced a significant increase in demand and a number of delays at local hospitals, which limits our ability to care for patients waiting in the community.

“We are working closely with partners to reduce hospital transfer delays so that we can reach patients who need us in the community and we encourage this and any patient who is unhappy with the response. that we have provided to share with our patient experience team. so that we can better examine the circumstances surrounding their care and share them directly with them.

Joan’s loved ones say now that she is on a ward the care she has received has been fantastic and the medical staff ‘couldn’t do enough for her’.

A spokesperson for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust are working tirelessly to reduce waiting times in our emergency department and to ensure that all admitted patients are placed in a bed room as soon as possible. Our Combination Emergency, Urgent Care and Urgent Care for Children services provide a streamlined process that allows patients to receive the right care as quickly as possible.

“The reality is that the pressures within the NHS and the demand for beds are often high, which sometimes results in patients awaiting transfer. We appreciate Mrs. Matthews’ kind words for our staff and wish her well in her recovery.

CLARIFICATION: Teesside Live previously reported that staff who attended Ms Matthew’s home were paramedics. However, we are happy to state that the employees who witnessed the incident were EMTs, meaning they are not qualified as paramedics and for this reason were unable to administer morphine.

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