There have been recent articles in The Telegraph this week which have highlighted national shortages within the NHS. They included the usual staff shortages, this time midwives; but one incredibly sad article stood out, which was concerned with the tragic death of a 73-year-old gentleman, who collapsed at home in Hartlepool after almost 2 hours wait for an ambulance.
His death prompted an inquest and basically the outcome was that although the gentleman did indeed die of natural causes; it also found that he may have been saved if the emergency ambulance had reached him sooner.
On the day of his death, the gentleman had complained of feeling generally unwell to his wife, who promptly called his GP. The GP arrived and did examine him, but could not find anything seriously wrong. The GP did offer to send him to hospital, which the gentleman refused.
However, later on that day he collapsed in his home, prompting his carer to call 999. Unfortunately, he was not deemed to be a “red” emergency and was allocated a 60 minute response time.
An ambulance did arrive approximately 2 hours later, but it was a St John’s ambulance with minimally trained staff. They did recognise the seriousness of the situation and promptly call a rapid response vehicle and ambulance, with an eight minute response time. However, the gentleman went into cardiac arrest and despite attempts to revive him, he was pronounced dead soon after.
The dispatch manager for the north-east ambulance service stated at the inquest that on that particular day, the ambulance service were experience high level of urgent calls and they were also hit by delays in admitting patients to hospital due to lack of available beds. A response that did not appear to go down to well with the coroner who ruled that the gentleman had died of natural causes – his underlying heart disease, but his death was aggravated by a “lack of timely and appropriate medical intervention”.
A tragedy that may well have been avoided had the ambulance arrived within the 60 minute response time allocated.