Disabled man left waiting 17 hours lying on the floor waiting for an ambulance


A former taxi driver is among those nationally who have endured long waits for ambulances amid huge pressures on the NHS (Picture: Alamy)

A man with a serious neurological condition spent 17 hours lying on the floor waiting for an ambulance after falling over.

Adam Leese, 36, who is disabled, was unable to get up but managed to alert a neighbour who dialled 999 and tried to make him comfortable.  

They were advised that there was a five-hour wait on several occasions when they tried to ask for help after the first call at 3pm on December 7. 

The neighbour had to leave at midnight because she had work the next day, leaving the former taxi driver alone at his flat in Southport, Merseyside.

Paramedics, said to be working under ‘extreme pressure’ on the service, arrived at 8am the following day when Adam, who has leukodystrophy and uses a Zimmer, was cold and suffering pain in his leg.

He spent three weeks in Southport & Ormskirk Hospital before being discharged to a care home in the town.

His mum, Sheila Eardley, spoke to Metro.co.uk as ambulance crews nationally prepare to take further strike action over pay and staffing amid record pressures on A&E departments and frontline services.

She said: ‘Adam has leukodystrophy which makes him very unsteady on his feet and causes his legs to tremble and jerk.

‘The condition is a bit like MS and he fell in his flat and couldn’t get up.

Military personnel are trained in an ambulance at Wellington Barracks in London as they prepare to provide cover for striking workers (Picture: PA)

‘He didn’t have his mobile nearby so he had to shout for help and a neighbour heard and got the landlord to open up.

‘They went inside and rang an ambulance.

‘His neighbour had to go at midnight because she was working the next day so she bundled him up with blankets and left him there.

‘He was really cold all night and in quite a bad state the next morning.

‘So it wasn’t just his condition that was causing him to be ill but the state of being cold and being left unattended all night.

‘When he got in they saw he was in a bad way and it wasn’t long before he was taken into A&E and then they put him in a side ward.’ 

Ambulance staff and nurses are taking industrial action nationally amid record waiting times at A&E departments and reports of patients dying as they wait to be admitted at hospitals.

Sheila Eardley is hopeful that her son Adam will regain some mobility after a fall at his home (Picture: Sheila Eardley/Facebook)

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), which covers Southport, has asked patients to use NHS 111 online if they need ‘urgent medical help’ because ‘you will get the answers you need faster’. 

Sheila, from Brentford, West London, said: ‘When he rang me and told me the ambulance didn’t come until 8am I was pretty devastated, as were many other people who know Adam, but there was so much to organise at the hospital it didn’t really sink in.

‘What made it worse was that the paramedics asked him if he had done it deliberately to try and get into hospital.

‘When he got to hospital his right leg was very painful and swollen and they suspected he might have deep vein thrombosis and gave him anti-coagulants, I don’t know if it was brought on by lying on the floor for so many hours.  

‘His symptoms haven’t improved since his time in hospital, his mobility has got worse and he can only get around with a Zimmer frame with someone in attendance. He can’t make himself a hot drink because his hands and fingers and eyesight are affected as well. He’s pretty much unable to do anything for himself.’  

A calendar showing the different strikes in the week commencing January 2 (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

Leukodystrophy has a life expectancy of between six and 14 years in adults. There is no cure for the rare genetic condition, with treatment being ‘symptomatic and supportive’, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Adam is hoping to get mobile again with an electric wheelchair and to build up some quality of life at his care home.  

‘Adam worked as a taxi driver until the end of October and he was determined to carry on,’ Sheila said. ‘But he was in quite a bad way and he found that his mobility was deteriorating by the week.

‘He was diagnosed with leukodystrophy in November 2021 and he tries to get about on his Zimmer frame to stop his leg muscles from wasting.  

‘After going to a GP it was six months before he got an appointment at a specialist neurological hospital, with the symptoms getting worse all the time. He’s had MRI scans, blood tests and a lumber puncture but he was hoping for an alternative diagnosis of MS, because that is treatable.  

As our teams continue to care for the patients that need us, we have a little reminder that will #HelpUsHelpYou.
If you no longer need an ambulance or have made your own way to the hospital, that is OK but please do call us back on 999 to cancel. pic.twitter.com/kNffQwxFGM

— North West Ambulance Service (@NWAmbulance) January 2, 2023

‘With the amount of money we pay into the NHS through our taxes and National Insurance it is dreadful to have to wait so long for such a severe disease. It’s not just Adam, there are people with cancer and other serious conditions having to wait months and months. 

‘It’s awful to have to wait so long when it is obvious someone is so seriously ill. Fortunately, Adam has had really good care and treatment at the hospital and he is hoping to build some quality of life at the care home.’  

Emergency staff in other parts of England have told how ambulances are effectively being used as ‘hospital cubicles’ as exhausted crews wait for hours outside A&E departments.

The next strikes involving ambulance workers in England are due to take place on Wednesday, January 11 and Monday, January 23.

NWAS has repeatedly asked the public to only ring 999 in life-threatening emergencies due to the severe pressures on the service and warned that ‘other patients may wait longer than we would like’.

More: News

A spokesperson said: ‘We are sorry that we weren’t able to get to Mr Leese as quickly as we would like.

‘We are trying our best to ensure everyone who needs an ambulance gets one; however, the ambulance service is under extreme pressure.

‘We understand that waiting for an ambulance can be anxious and uncomfortable. However, we must prioritise ambulances for life-threatening or serious cases, which means others will wait longer for a response.

‘We wish Mr Leese a swift and full recovery from his injuries, and if he or his family would like us to look into this further, then we invite them to contact our patient safety team.’

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact josh.layton@metro.co.uk

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