Grandad strapped to plank of wood after breaking hip amid ambulance shortage

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    A woman had to drive her war hero grandad to hospital in the back of a van with a broken hip – while he lay strapped to a plank of wood.

    Nicole Lea, 27, signalled a 999 emergency after finding 89-year-old Melvyn Ryan on the floor at his home in Cwmbran, Wales, and discovered he had not only broken his hip, but had also suffered a head and shoulder injury.

    Nicole rang 999 and got through to the Welsh Ambulance Service but said she was told help was not available, according to Wales Online.

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    The firefighter, who has cared for Melvyn since his wife Maureen died from Covid in 2020, said she "couldn't really believe what I was being told".

    She added: "I was left with grandad on the floor in agony and me wondering how I was going to save his life, adding: "I ended up, with my partner and mum's help, getting him onto a plank of wood and into the back of the van we bought to transport our dogs."

    Nicole continued: "I knew the NHS was in trouble and wait times were long. I also knew that it's understaffed and its workers are underpaid but what I didn't know when I called 999 was that they'd just turn around and say they weren't sending help.

    "It's only because of teamwork, brainstorming and quick thinking that the three of us managed to get grandad – a WWII Army veteran who once fought for his country – to the Grange University Hospital within a couple of hours."

    Nicole's partner Elliot Hill added: "Once we got to the hospital though everyone was great – couldn't have done more for Melvyn. They rushed to my van and got him straight inside on a trolley.

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    "He was also X-rayed within an hour or so. So our complaint is not with frontline staff at all, it's with the management."

    Lee Brooks, Executive Director of Operations at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: "The pressures facing the broader NHS have been well documented in the media, including how those pressures are impacting our ambulance services.

    "These have continued to grow in recent weeks and last night we declared a business continuity incident and continue today to try and mitigate these pressures as best we can.

    "Current levels of demand, handover delays at hospitals and staff sickness levels have limited our capacity to respond in a safe and timely manner."

    He added: "We invite Mr Ryan and his family to get in touch with our Putting Things Right team so that we can investigate the situation and better understand their experience."

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