A 73-year-old woman who broke her hip after a fall waited in agony for almost two hours in the dark and rain for a St John ambulance to take her to hospital.
Despite living just 20 minutes from Auckland Hospital, Dale Jones waited 110 minutes for paramedics to arrive, after her husband Philip found her lying on their driveway.
Philip told Newshub the delay "doesn't seem right", and fears St John is failing to meet demand after being told by a staffer the service is short-staffed.
"I wouldn't think 6pm on the Tuesday after Anzac Day they'd be rushed off their feet, except for the fact they had a couple of ambulances off the run. It's got me baffled," Philip told Newshub.
"It's bloody pathetic, I don't know why they wouldn't think it was a priority, especially after I'd phoned a third time."
St John Ambulance has apologised to the patient, and explained a triage system operates for every 111 call received. At times people may wait longer than expected when available resources are committed to time-critical emergencies.
Philip had been at home in St Heliers on April 27 looking at some paperwork with the TV on when Dale went outside to look for the couple's cat, Harrison, which usually stays inside.
Harrison was making his way up a fence which would have given him access to the driveway and street so Dale was attempting to get him down by trying to entice him to jump into her arms when she lost her balance and tripped on to the concrete driveway.
It was only when Philip paused the TV to wait to watch the news with Dale, he heard her calling from outside.
Philip went down thinking the cat had got away but instead found Dale lying on the concrete.
At 6:06pm he called the ambulance, put some blankets on her and tried to try and make his wife as comfortable as possible.
"I couldn't move her she was in too much pain and of course you can't give her anything, because you don't know what they have to do in the way of surgery or whatever. " Philip says.
Forty minutes into waiting, it started to rain and Philip became worried his wife had been forgotten about.
With his wife in so much pain, he called again and then a third time, one-and-a-half hours after his first call.
"I thought what is going on?" he says.
It was a huge relief to the pair when the paramedics arrived at 7:55pm, with Philip praising the two staff on board who were "amazing".
He says they told him the wait time was caused because they were short-staffed and two ambulances were not in operation and that the service was so overwhelmed two paramedics were doing 12-hour shifts on the North Shore with just a half-hour break.
Once Dale got to hospital on Tuesday night, an x-ray revealed she had broken the neck of the femur, which goes into the hip joint, and required surgery to insert an intramedullary rod.
Glenn Metcalfe, St John Auckland District Operations Manager, offered an apology for not meeting the patient's expectations and for any distress caused.
Metcalfe told Newshub that despite every effort to get to patients within a reasonable timeframe, demand for ambulances has increased by 3 percent year on year, on average, over the last five years.
"It is always St John Ambulance’s objective to respond as soon as possible, with life-threatening calls given the highest priority, however this increasing demand for ambulances has meant that some patients are having to wait for an ambulance if they are not in a critical condition," he said.
"While we understand this can be frustrating for patients who have health issues that are not life-threatening, it is the right approach to prioritise the most urgent and time-critical patients in those times when all other ambulances are committed."
In countries including the United Kingdom and Canada, ambulances are paid for by their governments - but in New Zealand our service relies in part on donations and volunteers.
In last year's budget, St John was allocated additional funding to recruit 106 ambulance officers to help relieve the pressure - a process which is halfway through completion.
First Union is calling for the upcoming health system overhaul to include a fully funded ambulance service and the responsibility of its operations to be centralised.
This year, St John is seeking funding for 200 extra ambulance staff and is waiting for the May 2021 Budget announcement to see what will be possible.