AN ELDERLY woman waited 12 hours on the floor of her home for an ambulance, before waiting another five hours to be admitted to hospital.

Southend West MP Anna Firth made the revelation after holding crucial talks with Health Secretary Sajid Javid about long queues of ambulances forming outside Southend Hospital on a regular basis. 

The Conservative MP was confronted by the issue on Saturday where she was taking part in an hospital fundraising.


She revealed her horror at witnessing 15 ambulances queueing outside.

Ms Firth said she stressed the need for "urgent action" when meeting Mr Javid on Monday.

Echo: Winter plan - Ms Firth meets with Sajid JavidWinter plan - Ms Firth meets with Sajid Javid

"One ambulance had an old lady with a fractured hip who had laid at home for over 12 hours before the ambulance even arrived, only to wait for another five hours to be admitted,” Ms Firth said.

“This is utterly unacceptable.”

Ms Firth added she was shocked to learn one of the ambulances had been dispatched to an 11-year-old with tonsillitis.

She said: “His parents had called 111, but because the delay for this service was apparently so long, an ambulance had been dispatched, meaning that rather than attending more urgent cases a whole ambulance, including crew, were taken up for over an hour and a half securing a GP appointment. 

“This is an absurd waste of valuable and finite resources.”

The East of England Ambulance Service, which responds to incidents in counties including Essex, experienced its busiest year on record for the volume of 999 calls it received last year.

The ambulance service is nearing breaking point, with queues outside hospitals a regularity, and patients on average waiting almost three hours more than in 2020.

Ms Firth has further meetings scheduled with health ministers to work out a plan, in a bid to resolve the situation before winter.

“What is clear is that reforms to the way the emergency care system in Southend functions are urgently needed," she said.

"It is essential that we have better strategies for triaging patients, more joined-up thinking, and ensuring that only patients who really need an ambulance receive one.”

A spokesperson for East of England Ambulance Service said: “Our Trust has experienced sustained high levels of demand for services, with 2021 marking the busiest year on record in the NHS for the number of 999 calls and we have seen this demand continue into this year.     

“We are currently working with partner organisations to reduce waiting times, but the public can help us too by using NHS 111 for healthcare advice in non-urgent cases. Please continue to call 999 if it’s a life-threatening emergency.”