An elderly lady waited more than four hours to be treated after passing out following a fall in Fishbourne on Sunday, according to a Chichester district councillor.
In a letter addressed to Daren Mochrie, chief executive South East Coast Ambulance Service, councillor Adrian Moss raised his concerns with the ambulance service response time after a resident in his ward 'fell on her face on uneven pavement' near to her house on the A259.
Councillor Moss said an ambulance was called for the lady in her 70s, who doesn't wish to be named, after she 'passed out and was left with her front teeth bridge knocked out and severe bruising'.
He added: "She was returning from a shopping trip. Fortunately two local residents saw the incident and rushed out to help her.
"The individual reporting the incident was warned that the ambulance may take two hours [so] the injured lady was taken to her house as sitting on the pavement for two hours was not a practical alternative. Her family were called and arrived as soon as they could.
"The ambulance arrived four hours later, with siren and lights going, but drove straight past. The ambulance still with siren and lights on returned a few minutes later.
"When asked why the siren and lights were on the ambulance crew advised that it was an emergency."
'We have been extremely busy'
Responding to what councillor Moss called an 'unacceptable delay' to an emergency, the South East Coast Ambulance Service said the incident was assigned a 'category 3 priority'.
A spokesman said: "We always take any concerns raised seriously. We are sorry when it takes us longer than we would expect to respond to a call.
"All our calls are categorised into one of four categories based on information provided by the caller. These categories range from category 1, which we would aim to respond to in an average of 7 minutes and category 4 which we would aim to respond to in less than three hours 90 per cent of the time.
“This incident was assigned a category 3 priority, which we aim to respond to within two hours 90 per cent of the time."
The ambulance service said it has been 'extremely busy' and have a 'duty to prioritise our most seriously ill and injured patients'.
"When we are facing high demand there are times when we can take longer than normal to reach patients who are not in a serious or life-threatening condition," the spokesman added.
“We appreciate that this means some patients are waiting longer than both we and they would like. We are working hard to improve our response to less seriously ill and injured patients including introducing vehicles specifically aimed at responding to this type of call.”
The ambulance service confirmed it had received a letter from councillor Moss and 'will respond to him directly regarding his specific questions'.
'Something needs to be done'
In the letter councillor Moss said it was 'quite extraordinary' that the ambulance drove past the lady's house in the first instance, but said she was 'very grateful' to the paramedics.
He wrote: "The ambulance crew assessed the injuries and provided the required care without the lady requiring a visit to hospital.
"The lady was of course very grateful to the ambulance staff and for the care eventually given.
"We are all very grateful for the service provided by the ambulance service which is carried out by dedicated staff, however if the service is unable to cope that something needs to be done."
The South East Coast Ambulance Service introduced new national targets for response time performance targets in November 2017, which the spokesman said means that 'we are able to better respond to our most seriously ill and injured patients with the right response first time'. Click here to see an outline of these targets.