A cyclist whose leg was broken in a brutal bike-jacking by three masked robbers was refused an ambulance and forced to make his own way to hospital by Uber minicab.
Paul Mullan, 32, dialled 999 in agony as he lay face down on the towpath beside the River Lea near Tottenham Hale after being attacked as he rode home.
But, in the latest controversy to hit the London Ambulance Service, he was told to hang-up and redial the NHS 111 non-emergency helpline because his injury “wasn’t serious enough”. He was eventually rescued by three police officers who carried him to their patrol car and drove him home.
Mr Mullan, an IT project manager from Walthamstow, told me in an exclusive interview from his hospital bed that he felt “let down” by the ambulance service.
The incident happened a day after no ambulance was sent to heavily pregnant Malorie Bantala, 21, who was so brutally attacked in Peckham that she lost her baby.
Mr Mullan said: “I don’t know why they couldn’t send an ambulance patrol car or whatever doctor they had around. That is the most disappointing thing.
“At the time I was incredulous. I’m always a defender of the NHS but I want to know why they didn’t listen to my call properly. They said, ‘Describe what is wrong with you’. I’m laying flat on my face. I have been hauled off my bike. I can’t move. I remember being short of breath and getting frustrated with them. I knew my leg was gone.”
Last year the ambulance service faced criticism after several cyclists were left lying injured in the road for hours. Emergency response times plummeted to the slowest in the country and chief executive Ann Radmore quit in January after concerns were raised at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Dr Fenella Wrigley, London Ambulance Service acting medical director, said: “From the information provided to us, the patient was conscious, breathing and alert and did not have any immediately life threatening injuries.
“We will now contact the patient and work with him to review this case; we are sorry if we have contributed to was what already a very distressing experience.”
Mr Mullan was helped by two passing joggers and a group of teenagers. He was full of praise for the help he received from the police. One officer rode his £300 bike home after it was found abandoned nearby.
After advice from a surgeon friend in his Northern Ireland home town, Mr Mullan and girlfriend Yuriko Taya booked a minicab via the Uber app to take them to A&E.
He was admitted with a fractured tibia – his shinbone – and is awaiting surgery.
The incident, around 9pm on Tuesday near Markfield Park, is believed to have been caught on camera by a passer-by. Police today appealed for witnesses as they issued descriptions of the attackers.
“The biggest one started running and pulled the handlebars,” Mr Mullan recalled. “I went sideways really quickly. I fell down. I was screaming in agony. I went to get up and grab the bike and they kicked me down again.”
The incident is the latest in a series of bike-jackings in and around Walthamstow marshes. Mr Mullan, who works in the West End, had previously had surgery on the same leg, involving the insertion of two surgical screws, after a serious football injury.
He said: “If I’m a target, then anyone can be a target, any time of day or night. Unfortunately my only alternative is to go down Seven Sisters Road. Five people have been killed or injured this year on my route to work. My girlfriend won’t let me back on a bike. I’m beginning to think that is good advice. She didn’t want me to cycle home that evening.”
The attackers were described as a tall black man aged 18 to 20 wearing a burgundy bandana over his face, another black man of the same age with Afro-style hair who was wearing a black jacket and a short black youth aged around 16 of Somali appearance wearing a black bomber jacket and blue jeans.
Detective Sergeant Gareth Coffey, of Haringey CID, said: “This was a violent attack on an innocent man and it has left him badly injured. I am sure these three youths will have been seen and will probably be known to people.”
* Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Quote 2813883/15.