An elderly woman was left waiting on a cold, dark South Hams street for six hours for an ambulance, after she fell an injured an arm and an eye.

Witnesss Adrian Lloyd- Edwards said the 77-year-old woman fell in Stoke Fleming at 8pm on Thursday, October 11, but it wasn’t until 2am on Friday that an ambulance could get to her.

The woman fell outside the back door of village shop and neighbours come out to look after her and her husband as best they could.

Mr Lloyd-Edwards said: “She suffered a probable fracture or dislocation of her shoulder and fracture of the orbit of the eye. She was in great pain and immovable. She was looked after by a number of local neighbours who first called for an ambulance and then provided blankets for her and a chair, a blanket and tea for her husband. The calls for an ambulance were repeated a number of times but none arrived. The crew explained they had more urgent calls.”

Villagers felt it was unwise to move the woman from the cold, stone pavement, as they did not know the extent of her injuries.

Mr Lloyd-Edwards said: “Were it not for the care given by the good people of Stoke Fleming this lady might well not have endured this unforgivable delay.

“This is not even Third World standard.

“The ambulance service are under great pressure, we know, and they are frequently delayed by attending trivial calls and there is clearly a need for more ambulances to be made available.

“This is further evidence that we live in the most ill-served NHS area in the country.

“Perhaps our MP, should she have time, might look into the matter. 

Mr Lloyd-Edwards said he believed that when the woman, who was visiting the area from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, got to hospital surgeons were unable to operate on her and, after 24 hours, she was taken to a hospital closer to her home.

A spokesman for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “SWASFT would like to apologise that we were unable to reach this patient more quickly.

“At the time of this call the trust was experiencing a seven per cent increase in demand across South Devon – compared to 2017 – with several serious life-threatening, time-critical incidents.

“Our control hub made several welfare checks and there had been no change in the patient’s condition and there was no immediate threat to life.

“Managing the demand on the ambulance service across the south west can be very challenging.

“While we will always strive to reach our patients in a timely manner, we must prioritise those with the greatest clinical need.

“Sometimes this means that less poorly patients do not get the response that we would wish.”