Penicuik pensioner’s anger at ambulance refusal

William Paterson is angry with ambulance staff and police.
William Paterson is angry with ambulance staff and police.

A Penicuik pensioner has hit out at an ambulance crew for refusing to take his wife to hospital, and criticised police for how they dealt with the situation last Saturday night.

William Paterson (74) called for an ambulance at around 11.10pm on Saturday, after his wife Jean (77), who suffers from functional weakness and is taken to hospital around once a month, fell ill at their Cowan Court independent living flat in Penicuik.

Despite the refusal of the ambulance crew to take Jean, another ambulance did take her to hospital, where she was still receiving treatment on Tuesday as the Advertiser went to press. The Scottish Ambulance Service has promised to investigate.

Mr Paterson said: “Functional weakness imitates having a stroke. The symptoms are the same. She is normally in hospital for three or four days.

“On Saturday, the ambulance sat there for half an hour, so they could have taken her to hospital in that time.

“I wasn’t happy that they weren’t taking her to hospital.

“My wife has had this illness for 10 years and I have to call an ambulance about once a month. But this is the first time they have refused to take her.

“The ambulance man said he is a paramedic and he is entitled to make an assessment on the spot. I think he was wrong.

“We had to wait for another crew to come. In the time we waited my daughter came over from South Queensferry.

“Then the second crew came and took my wife to hospital. She is still there.

“She has only now got a bit of movement in her hand.”

Mr Paterson, who suffers from dementia, was appalled by the treatment he received from the police officers who attended on Saturday night, and accused one of them of breaking into his flat.

He said: “They wouldn’t let me go to the toilet. Two officers kept me in the hub area of Cowan Court for three hours. They wouldn’t let me back in my flat.

“A third policeman arrived on the scene and entered my flat without my permission.

“The policeman grabbed me by the arm and said ‘I have had enough of you tonight’. He frog-marched me up to the door and the police sergeant made a remark about my dementia.

“They didn’t have a warrant, so they have basically broke into my house.

“It was just the brutality of it and breaking my human rights. I never got to bed until about three in the morning.

“I think people should know about how brutal police can be to people with illnesses like dementia.

“My wife heard the policeman say to the ambulance crewman ‘do you want him charged?’ But they had nothing to charge me on. It shows they were determined to get me charged.”

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “Our crews are highly trained to assess whether patients require transport to hospital.

“We will be investigating this incident thoroughly to determine the full circumstances.”

A police spokesman, who declined to comment on Mr Paterson’s allegations of officers being heavy handed, said: “Police Scotland can confirm that they attended a concern for person call at an address in Cowan Court in Penicuik at around 11.50pm on Saturday, 4 January, 2020.

“Staff from Scottish Ambulance Service were in attendance at the time and no formal police action was required.”