A pensioner has demanded Health Minister James Reilly resign after his 80-year-old wife had to wait almost two hours for an ambulance with a broken hip.
"She could have taken a heart attack with the pain she was going through," Jimmy Sheelan (73) said. "Without a shadow of a doubt, the minister should resign."
His wife Angela, a mother-of-three and grandmother of eight, remains in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, where she underwent an operation to repair her broken hip.
Angela had fallen in the garden of their home and screamed for her husband.
Jimmy found his wife "lying here (on the ground). I wasn't fit to pick her up. I got a neighbour to help and we put her in a chair that was here. We rang the ambulance and it was two hours of a wait."
Mr Sheelan said he first called for an ambulance just after 5pm last Friday and the HSE has confirmed that one did not arrive until 6.47pm.
An advanced paramedic in a Rapid Response Vehicle reached the Sheelan home, at Riverstown, Louth, at 5.35 pm but his car did not contain a stretcher and he was forced to wait, with the family, for the ambulance that was able to take her to hospital.
"He was very good to her and he gave her morphine for the pain but we needed an ambulance," said Mr Sheelan.
Upon finding his wife on the ground, Jimmy immediately contacted emergency services.
"I rang 999 and they told me there was one within 20 minutes of here. Neighbours gathered round and kept her occupied – 45 minutes later the paramedic arrived in a car. He was a gentleman, he was a star.
"He calmed her down and gave her injections of morphine to kill the pain. I said to him, 'Where is this ambulance?' He rang again and said, 'It is going to be a while yet'. Then he rang again, I was getting agitated.
"She was screaming in pain. Our system is crazy, the sooner Reilly gets to know that the better."
The HSE said an advanced paramedic stabilised Mrs Sheelan but also confirmed that, "all emergency ambulance resources in the area were responding to other emergency calls at the time of the call and the nearest emergency ambulance was dispatched to the scene. The ambulance arrived at the scene at 18.47. An ambulance from Northern Ireland was also dispatched to the scene but was subsequently redirected".
The HSE said it regretted the delay.