COLCHESTER residents have shared their ambulance wait time horror stories - with some even claiming they had to wait as long as 15 hours while suffering from internal bleeding. 

Damning NHS figures obtained from FOI requests show all but one of England's ambulance trusts regularly missed their 18-minute response time target in 2023 for category 2 calls. 

Category 2 includes emergencies relating to heart attacks and strokes. 

According to the findings, East Suffolk and the North East Essex Trust patients in Colchester and beyond with a Category 2 condition waited 45 minutes and 53 seconds for an ambulance a 56.67 per cent increase from 2019.

Those with life-threatening or serious conditions, meanwhile, had to wait nine minutes and 39 seconds for an ambulance on average - a 11.78 per cent increase from 2019.

According to the findings, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, the longest wait time a patients endured for Category 1 and Category 2 calls were one hour, 35 minutes and nine seconds and 20 hours, 38 minutes and 45 seconds, respectively.

Dunmow Broadcast: Praise - Several Colchester Residents praised NHS staff and paramedics despite long waiting timesPraise - Several Colchester Residents praised NHS staff and paramedics despite long waiting times (Image: Submitted)

Residents have now told the Gazette Facebook page of some of the concerning experiences they have had while in need of an ambulance. 

Joe Joanne Cook said her mum suffered internal bleeding and had to wait 15 and a half hours as she couldn’t get to the hospital herself as she is “disabled and can’t walk”.

Ms Cook added: “The ambulance service phoned twice in that time to monitor her symptoms.

“We were told she was actually a priority. It is scary, but we understood it’s not the paramedics’ fault. It was all well in the end.”

Adrian Arnot, meanwhile, revealed how his elderly mum sustained a broken hip yet had to wait six hours for an ambulance crew to arrive.

With his mum "crying and in pain" he called the service at 10pm but paramedics did not get to the home until 4am. 

He had tried to move his mum himself but could not lift or move her over the house’s steps.

Dunmow Broadcast: Pain - Adrian Arnot's elderly mum in hospital after being left in agony for six hours with a broken hipPain - Adrian Arnot's elderly mum in hospital after being left in agony for six hours with a broken hip (Image: Public)
Sarah Fenn said her partner who has a rare genetic disease had a 13 hour delay before waiting seven hours in hospital to be triaged. 

And Emma Goodson, who lives in Messing, said: "Our son has a flag on his name and our address and a couple of times we’ve had an ambulance come from Ipswich or Sudbury even though it was a category two call.

"We’ve always had fabulous paramedics though. They do their best."

For patients under the jurisdiction of the the Mid and South East Essex Trust, which covers Braintree and Southend, the average wait time was eight minutes and 25 seconds for Category 1 calls and 41 minutes and 45 seconds for Category 2 calls in 2023 a 6.77 and 30.6 per cent increase from 2019.

The longest wait times at the Mid and South East Essex Trust, meanwhile, were two hours, 20 minutes and 30 seconds for Category 1 and 16 hours, 49 minutes and 16 seconds.

Bosses at the East of England Ambulance Service have now moved to reassure residents, saying the latest data only refers back to 2023, and since then changes have been made.

A spokesman added: "We have worked with our partners to reduce response times, and these have improved significantly since the end of last year.

"We are working on numerous ways in which we can further improve our response times and increase our resources."

The East of England Ambulance Service's frontline clinicians have increased by 300, delivering a ten per cent increase in ambulance hours.

29 MAN and Ford vehicles are also due to join its fleet by May, with a further 63 due over the following six months, as well as 40 more Renaults this financial year.

Campaigners, however, have said “lives will continue to be lost”.

A spokesman from Save Southend NHS said: “Year on year, the East of England Ambulance Service response time targets continue to worsen, causing critical delays providing timely emergency care of patients and often resulting in worsening outcomes.

“General funding gaps across the NHS coupled with long delays at A&Es to offload patients caused by continued lack of beds and staff, affects the availability of 999 ambulances.”

“That, alongside numerous paramedics leaving the gritty, draining and relentlessly harrowing frontline in favour of jobs in community and general practice, sees the Ambulance Service Trust continuing to fail response time targets. Those failures cause pain and cost lives.

“Until bed occupancy is increased in our A&Es and hospital wards, the issue will remain and lives will continue to be lost.”

Dr Adrian Boyle, president of The Royal College of Emergency Medicine – a union which covers ambulance services - believes ambulance delays are a relatively new problem.

He added: “We were not seeing the kinds of delays we do today, ten years ago. The fundamental issue is that handovers at hospitals take too long, because emergency departments are simply too full.”

“We continue to encourage decision makers to adopt the recommendations in our Resuscitate Emergency Care campaign to reduce overcrowding and provide equitable and safe emergency care for all.”