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I have gone through hell’

PUBLISHED: 11:21 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:33 23 August 2010

Dartford
04-03-08
Joyce Butcher fell over at Bluewater and broke her arm

Dartford 04-03-08 Joyce Butcher fell over at Bluewater and broke her arm

BUMBLING staff at one of Europe s biggest shopping centres stood by as a pensioner with heart problems lay in agony on the floor for half an hour in freezing conditions. Joyce Butcher, 71, of Trevithick Drive, Dartford, claims she has gone through hell

BUMBLING staff at one of Europe's biggest shopping centres stood by as a pensioner with heart problems lay in agony on the floor for half an hour in freezing conditions.

Joyce Butcher, 71, of Trevithick Drive, Dartford, claims she has "gone through hell" after tripping on a pothole in Bluewater's car park that left her with a badly broken arm.

Mrs Butcher, who is registered disabled with arthritis, contacted the Dartford Times after the accident last month, as she faces further surgery on her arm at Darent Valley Hospital.

She said: "My friend was just in front of me and heard me fall. When she saw the state of my arm she panicked and a crowd started to form round me.

"Staff arrived but they did nothing, the first aid was appalling.

"I was absolutely freezing and a kind mother took a blanket off her baby's pram and wrapped it round me.

"When the paramedic arrived 30 minutes later he couldn't believe I had been left on the floor so long. He said 'cuddle up to me you're in shock,' he was so kind."

She said a Bluewater worker then offered his coat, and claimed a paramedic said: "It's a bit late for that."

According to Mrs Butcher, the paramedic was delayed because Bluewater staff did not inform the ambulance service where she had fallen.

Richard Coletta, 33, was on a shopping trip with his family and arrived at the scene after the fall.

He said: "There was a health and safety guy there in a suit but he didn't do much. We had to gee him up to call an ambulance and asked him to get some blankets. I asked him if they had a first aider and he said he was it."

Mr Coletta also claimed the ambulance took about 10 to 15 minutes to arrive, as it circled the adjacent car park looking for the patient.

"You would have thought a major shopping centre like that would have an ambulance on stand by for serious incidents," he added. "The situation could have been much worse."

Since falling on February 23, Mrs Butcher has been told she needs a series of gruelling procedures on her arm at hospital.

A spokesman for Bluewater said: "It is very unfortunate what happened to Mrs Butcher. We would welcome an approach from her to discuss what happened. At Bluewater health and safety is of prime importance."

South East Coast Ambulance Service said that a paramedic was at the scene five minutes after they received the call at 11.53am.

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