Ambulance chiefs have apologised after an 88-year-old Sheffield woman waited two hours in the cold with a fractured pelvis for paramedics to arrive.
Freda Stancer lay in 'agonising' pain on the ground, in temperatures as low as 3C, and would have succumbed to hypothermia had it not been for neighbours coming to her aid with portable heaters, a hairdyer and blankets, says her furious son Paul.
He claims she is lucky to be alive after five 999 calls were made before Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) finally dispatched paramedics to her house in Oldfield Road, Stannington, two hours on from the first call.
"I was absolutely horrified to hear how long she had to wait in the freezing cold. You wouldn't treat an animal like that," he said.
"If the ambulance service doesn't see that as a priority I don't know what is. There would have had to be a lot of people with missing limbs wandering around town for that not to qualify as a priority.
"Thankfully she's recovering now in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital but I think she would have died of hypothermia were it not for her neighbours' actions."
Mr Stancer said his mother, who worked as a nurse for 40 years and has four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, had gone outside to feed the birds on December 29 when she slipped on a paving stone at around 2.30pm.
It was nearly an hour before neighbours Sue and George Allott said they found her lying on the ground and called for an ambulance, at around 3.25pm.
Mrs Allott told how a first-aid responder had arrived in his own car at about 4.40pm but was not qualified to administer pain relief or move Ms Stancer inside. She said it was not until 5.20pm that an ambulance finally appeared and took the pensioner to hospital.
"When the first-aid responder heard how long she'd been lying there even he said 'this is a joke' and dialled 999 himself," she said.
"I know the NHS is short of resources but we would like to know why it took so long for anyone to arrive."
Jackie Cole, YAS' locality director for emergency operations in South Yorkshire, said: "We would like to sincerely apologise for the delay in responding to Freda Stancer following her fall on Thursday 29 December 2016.
"The patient's family have been in touch with the trust and we are liaising with them directly to discuss their concerns.
"The call came in during a period of very high demand and we were doing our best to respond as quickly as possible to all patients who needed our assistance.
"We would like to reassure members of the public that our main priority continues to be providing a safe, responsive and high quality service to the people of Yorkshire."
BIG FREEZE: Arctic blast set to bring snow and bitterly cold temperatures to Sheffield
Sheffield boy, 13, missing from home
Sheffield man jailed for attacking prison officers while behind bars
VIDEO: American "cop" tries to sneak into Sheffield club by flashing badge - and gets short shrift by bouncer: WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE
After Cristiano Ronaldo plans Owls visit, who are Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United's other celebrity fans?
Get all the latest Owls stats
Get all the latest Blades stats
Download The Star's mobile app now for FREE