Elderly woman left ‘screaming in pain’ in 4-hour wait for ambulance after stairwell fall

Zhanna Marchenko, 87, tumbled down a set of stairs in the close at her home in East Renfrewshire, on March 20 and lay ‘screaming in pain’ while waiting almost four hours for an ambulance

The ‘confused’ pensioner was found by a neighbor at around 8.20pm who called for an ambulance to attend

A pensioner was left “screaming in pain” while waiting for medics after falling down the stairs and suffering a broken hip.

Zhanna Marchenko waited for almost four hours for an ambulance to arrive while she lay in agony on the floor of her East Renfrewshire, on the evening of March 20.

The dementia-stricken pensioner, 87, had tumbled down a set of stairs close to her home and was found at around 8.20pm by a neighbor who immediately called an ambulance.

Zhanna’s daughter, Zanna Marczenko arrived ten minutes later to find her mum lying on the concrete “screaming in pain” whenever she moved, The Daily Record reports.

The terrified 57-year-old, fearing her mother would die before her eyes, ran emergency services another two times, begging for an ambulance.

Ambulance crews returned her calls once, meaning there were four calls in total before help finally arrived.

Zanna claims she called 4 times and was told ‘just to wait’



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Nurse Zanna alleges operators, on each of the four calls, told her “you just have to wait”, before mercy crews arrived at 11.55pm.

Zhanna suffered a broken hip and remains in Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to recover from an operation, while Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) chiefs have apologized and blamed “high emergency demand”.

But Zanna said the “emotional and physical trauma'” of the almost four-hour wait is more traumatising for her mum than the fall itself.

She told the Record: “The experience of waiting for an ambulance is so terrible that it’s hard to describe.

“Mum was lying on the cold hard concrete in the stairwell, next to the door to the outside.

“At the beginning, my mother cried and shook, but later my mother stopped crying and became totally silent, but she continued shaking, and that was the only sign she was still alive.

“I thought my mother would die there waiting for help and I would stand and look at it.”

She added: “When we tried to lift my mother off the floor, she started screaming and crying. It was obvious that my mother had broken bones, and it was later confirmed in the hospital that she had suffered a broken hip. She was also terribly confused.

“Waiting for the help we needed was more painful, both emotionally and physically, than the accident itself. It was just horrible.”

Zanna complained to the Scottish Ambulance Service three days after her mum’s fall on March 23 and received a response the following day.

Zhanna is now in hospital recovering after surgery for broken hip



An SAS spokeswoman told Zanna via email: “Call Handler Miss Milby confirms that our Ambulance Control Center (ACC) received a 999 call for Mrs Marczenko at 8.24pm on March 20, 2022.

“The call was triaged as described above and the information provided indicated that instead of an immediate ambulance being dispatched, we would undertake a further clinical telephone or video triage with one of the clinicians within our ACCs.

“We undertake these consultations with some patient conditions to better understand how we can help.

“In some instances, this can include us signing callers or patients to alternative hospital or GP services and in a small number of cases, this can allow us to upgrade an incident to one of our higher priority response levels if clinically appropriate.

“An Advanced Paramedic (AP) called back at 10:13pm to carry out an in-depth clinical triage of Mrs Marczenko. Unfortunately, our AP got no reply initially but got through just before 10:30pm.

“The outcome of the triage was to upgrade the call to an emergency response. Unfortunately, due to sustained levels of high emergency demand, there were no available emergency ambulances to attend at that time.

“The first available emergency ambulance was dispatched at 11.41pm, however, it was diverted to an Immediately Life-Threatening (ILT) call.

“The second available emergency ambulance was dispatched at 11:48pm, arriving with Mrs Marczenko at 11:55pm, leaving the scene at 12.45am the next day and arriving at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital at 1.01am.

“On March 20 into March 21, the Service was faced with exceptional increased sustained demand of emergency calls across the Greater Glasgow and Clyde areas and this unfortunately compounded the delay in the AP calling back and then dispatching an ambulance to Mrs Marczenko.”

She added: “Please accept our sincere apologies for the delay in an ambulance attending that day. This must have been an extremely difficult time for everyone involved.

“It is clear that the level of service provided falls short of what we strive to achieve. I recognize that this does not ease the feelings following the circumstances that you and Mrs Marczenko experienced.

“We always strive to offer the highest possible standards of care to our patients, and it is disappointing when people are let down. I hope Mrs Marczenko is recovering well.

“I would like to assure you that our Ambulance Control Center Managers are continually monitoring the demand on our resources to ensure that we can meet the demand.

“While we have escalation plans for times when demand increases there can sometimes be delays and it is always regrettable when this happens.

“We are accelerating recruitment and training of an additional 549 frontline staff by the end of March 2022, which will provide additional capacity to meet these challenging peaks in demand, to reduce delays for patients and the likelihood of an incident like this occurring in the future .”

A member of the complaints team allegedly called Zanna to further apologise.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde advised the Daily Record that the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) were best placed to respond.

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “Due to a high volume of calls that evening and lengthy patient handover times at hospitals, there was, unfortunately, a longer wait time for an ambulance for this patient.

“We triage calls to ensure we prioritize the most seriously ill patients and based on the information provided over the phone by the caller, the call was triaged as suitable to be passed to one of our clinicians for further assessment before an ambulance was assigned.

“We’re sorry for the delay in attending Mrs. Marchenko and hope she is recovering well.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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