Wheelchair user's 'disgust' at borough's pavements after park visit ends with hour wait for ambulance

Natalie Love, 24, said she is "scared to go out" after the accident.

Natalie Love, 24, said she is "scared to go out" after the accident. - Credit: Natalie Love

A disabled student in Hornchurch had to wait more than an hour for an ambulance after being thrown into the road when her wheelchair hit a tree root in Havering. 

Natalie Love, who had to wait lying in the road, said she felt "disgusted" about the state of the borough's roads after the incident in Eyhurst Avenue on November 28.

The 24-year-old, who has a functional neurological disorder, had been returning from a trip to the park when her powered wheelchair hit the tree root protruding through the pavement. 

Her mother called an ambulance and neighbours offered blankets as she lay with the weight of her 80kg chair, which was damaged in the accident, on top of her. 

The council has since said it is “urgently investigating” the location and would update Natalie directly. 

While the incident unfolded, Cllr Stephanie Nunn, a passer-by, alerted a Queen’s Hospital nurse attending church nearby, who came to assist. 

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) says it received a call at around 10.24am and sent an ambulance crew, arriving at the scene by 11.31am. 

Most Read

On the day of the incident, the LAS received more than 6,600 emergency calls, compared to the 5,500 calls it says it typically received on a busy day before the pandemic. 

Natalie was subsequently taken to hospital, where she was treated for soft tissue damage and her arm put in a sling; with doctors suspecting she had dislocated her shoulder during the incident. 

“It’s kind of shook me up a bit now because I’m scared to go out,” she said. 

She alleged many roads in the area are in a poor condition – citing Warren Drive and St Nicholas Avenue, along with Eyhurst Avenue – and urged Havering Council to get to the "root of the problem”. 

“[Pavements] should be accessible to everyone, you shouldn’t be tripping over them and ending up in hospital with soft tissue damage,” she added. 

The offending tree root in Eyhurst Avenue

The offending tree root in Eyhurst Avenue - Credit: Cllr Stephanie Nunn

Cllr Osman Dervish, Havering’s environment lead, added: “Since 2019, the council has pledged to invest £10 million a year over four years into the borough’s roads and pavements." 

In addition to her anger at the council, Natalie said she was shocked by the long wait for the ambulance. 

“I understand with Covid they have a lot of people to attend to, but to have someone who is in a wheelchair on the floor in the freezing cold weather for an hour and a half isn’t acceptable,” she said.