Catton footballer with broken leg waited 75 minutes for ambulance

A footballer whose leg was broken during a match has told how he had to lie in the middle of the pitch for an hour and a quarter waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Ryan Smith was playing in a friendly for Thorpe St Andrew's Thorpe Village FC when a tackle left him with both of the bones in his lower leg broken above his right ankle.

Paramedics in a response car arrived just after 8pm, within minutes of the 999 call, but Mr Smith was left on the pitch in agony as an ambulance could not be sent until 9.15pm to transport him to hospital.

Today ambulance bossses, who recently came under fire over response times, said they were investigating the incident.

The 27-year-old, from Rackham Road, Catton, said: 'The paramedics I can't fault at all. They were there within minutes and they did a fantastic job, giving me gas and air and morphine.

'They didn't want to move me because of the extent of the damage, as it could have caused problems with trapping a nerve or blood veins.

'But it was over an hour before they could get an ambulance out as they had to divert several that were on their way.'

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The match, against Hemsby FC, took place at the Anglian Social Club sports ground in Holt Road, Hellesdon, on Friday, July 22.

Mr Smith, a self-employed carpet, curtain and blind fitter, now faces a long recovery period and had been told the metal frame around his leg may have to be kept in place for four months, and even after it is removed is likely to be replaced with a plaster cast.

The midfielder said his playing days are well and truly over, but the most pressing concern for him now is how to support his family, wife Suzy and four-year-old daughter Ellie, while he is unable to work.

His father-in-law John Waller said: 'I can't believe it took so long for one ambulance to arrive. Even the paramedics there were embarrassed about how long it took.

'He was quite badly injured and was left lying there in lots of pain in the middle of the field. I don't think the public realise what is going on and somebody needs to try and do something about it.'

The criticism comes at a time of great change for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, as it is currently in the process of overhauling it's way of responding to different types of 999 call.

Even unions and paramedics themselves admit the service receives a significant amount of inappropriate and time-wasting calls, and the changes are aimed at filtering out the less serious cases so that tight emergency resources can be quickly dispatched to where they are most-needed.

As part of this new way of working, the ambulance service is looking at reducing its intensive care ambulance fleet size from 276 to 138 vehicles and increasing its response car fleet from 145 to 232 vehicles. It could also increase its 'intermediate tier' vehicles from 21 to 105.

But it insists any changes to its fleet will follow on from the shift in demand brought about by the new response model.

The service has also recently come under fire for its performance in responding to emergency calls in Norfolk, particularly in rural areas like north Norfolk.

Dr Pamela Chrispin, medical director, said: 'While we improve our response model to ensure the most life-threatening cases get help even faster, we are carefully monitoring and investigating any issues that might arise as a result. The case highlighted is already being investigated as we take delays in back-up very seriously. We are tracking delays and have built monitoring of back-up times into our key performance indicators.'

A spokeswoman added: 'We would also be happy to investigate any incidents on behalf of patients individually through direct contact to our Patient Advice and Liaison Service.'

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service can be contacted on 0800 028 3382 or by email

Do you have a health story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email