AN ELDERLY woman who had a fall this morning had to wait more than three hours for an ambulance.

The 79-year-old, from Patcham, lay on the floor surrounded by a blue screen after she fell down in Churchill Square shopping centre at 11.15am.

A member of the public called for an ambulance just after the incident occurred, but the emergency services did not arrive until approximately 2.40pm.

The woman is thought to have stubbed her toe and badly hurt her right shoulder when she fell.

Health visitor and trained nurse Steph Wooler was passing by just after the accident, and attended to the woman.

Speaking at 2pm, Ms Wooler, 29, said: “Paramedics said they would be two hours, almost three hours ago.

“I have chased them four times, another lady has called them and my mum has called them, so that’s six times in total.

“They said they thought she was sat up in a chair, but we’ve been straight with them the whole time.

“The last time I spoke to them 20 minutes ago they said they have not even got anyone on their way out here.

“It’s totally unacceptable.

“We have a woman who is almost 80 years old in a lot of pain, and she’s been laying on this cold floor since 11.15am.”

Passer-by Kathleen North,80, from Telscombe Cliffs, said: “I’ve always found the ambulance service to be very good, so this is unfortunate.

“It’s really bad they have had to call them so many times.

“They are constantly up and down.

“You never know if they are at a life-saving situation.

“I do think they work hard.” Becki Friend, 37, or Burgess Hill, was in Brighton to do some shopping this afternoon.

She said: “There are no words.

“Bearing in mind that the hospital is not even very far away, it’s shocking really.”

Another passer-by who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s outrageous.

“Obviously you have got to look at whether there’s a reason for the delay, like traffic, but you cannot justify three hours.

“It’s like it’s not real.

“Isn’t this what we pay for? Why is the system failing?

“I feel sorry for the people who work there if that’s what they are working with, when the people on the desk can only give that information that they can’t send someone out.

“Something is seriously wrong.”

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) spokesperson: “We take any concerns raised seriously and we are sorry that this person had to wait longer than we would like.

"We appreciate that this was a long wait and we would also like to thank everyone who came to the person’s assistance.

"The call was categorised as a Category 3 call to which ambulance services aim to respond to within two hours. Unfortunately we were very busy at the time of the call and had to prioritise our response to higher category calls and patients in a life-threatening condition.

"We would invite anyone with concerns to contact us directly so we can look into them in more detail.”