Ambulance Watch: Parents’ anguish after 26-year-old son from Blakeney dies of brain haemorrhage after ambulance delay

Stepmother and father of Peter Nelson Haylie Wardhaugh and Sidney Nelson. Stepmother and father of Peter Nelson Haylie Wardhaugh and Sidney Nelson.

Monday, December 30, 2013
7:00 AM

The parents of a popular 26-year-old man who died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage have spoken of their disgust at having to wait two hours for an ambulance.

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Peter Nelson, 26, from Blakeney, who died from a  brain haemorrhage.Peter Nelson, 26, from Blakeney, who died from a brain haemorrhage.

Chef Peter Nelson, from Oddfellows Field, Blakeney, died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after collapsing in his bathroom.

Father and stepmother Sidney Nelson, 59, and Haylie Wardhaugh, 45, who also live at Oddfellows Field, have been told by the East of England Ambulance Service an investigation will be held into the delay.

Targets have been put in place for paramedics to reach the most urgent 999 calls within eight minutes and get a vehicle to those patients within 19 minutes.

The EDP launched the Ambulance Watch campaign in October 2012 following poor response times by the region’s under-fire service.

Last night, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “That sort of delay with a condition of that sort is obviously completely unacceptable and my concern is that the trust has been promising to improve performance for a long time now.

“I have been pressing to get a new chief executive. Thankfully now, we have got someone at the helm who is a highly experienced ambulance man and my strong hope is that now with Anthony Marsh in charge we can get the service we all rely on and have a right to expect.

“Whether it is found that this delay contributed to the death of Peter Nelson, or not, it is unacceptable. The trouble is this is not an isolated incident.”

Mr Nelson was an organ donor and since his death his heart and liver have been used to save the lives of a an older man and young woman respectively. His kidneys were also donated to two men.

On the night Mr Nelson died - the evening of November 14 - the 26-year-old had returned from work at the George Hotel in Cley complaining of a headache.

Miss Wardhaugh said: “He went into the bathroom and was coughing up blood. His head was pounding. He said he didn’t feel very well and said he wanted to throw up.”

He locked the bathroom door during his second visit of the night and his disabled father had to open it with a knife.

Mr Nelson said: “When I got inside he was lying on the floor. He couldn’t speak and was trying to communicate with his hand.”

The couple rang 999 at about 11pm and a paramedic, without an ambulance, arrived 15 minutes later.

“Peter was in a semi-comatose state and the paramedic was trying to do as much as he could,” Miss Wardhaugh added.

She said: “I was disgusted by the delay. The paramedic wasn’t very happy because the ambulance should have been at the house soon after him. We were angry.”

According to Miss Wardhaugh, who cares for Mr Nelson, the emergency worker rang the other paramedics with the ambulance about three times before they arrived.

The 26-year-old was breathing on his own when he arrived at hospital and underwent a scan and tests, but soon afterwards he stopped breathing on his own.

Miss Wardhaugh said: “At the hospital they could not do anything. Peter was obviously dead. They were keeping him alive. I don’t know what the paramedics could have done to save his life. It was a shock when he died because we were not expecting anything like that.”

An ambulance service spokesman said the trust could not comment on ongoing investigations.

But in a letter to Mr Nelson’s family, Duncan Moore, clinical operations manager at the ambulance trust, states: “My role within the ambulance trust as a clinical operations manager is to review both the quality of the care we deliver and also any issue that might impact upon this.

“As a result of what appears to be a delay in the arrival of the ambulance at your home address I have been tasked with undertaking an investigation into what we consider to be a serious incident.’’

Miss Wardhaugh added: “He was a lovely bloke. Blakeney is a close community and he had so many friends. He would help anybody. The community was like a ghost town when he died.”

Her stepson had grown up in Blakeney and was passionate about cooking and playing football, bowls and pool.

Mr Nelson worked in the kitchen of the Blakeney Manor Hotel after he left Alderman Peel High School on Wells.

He was a chef at the King’s Arms pub in Blakeney for about seven years until recently, when he moved to the George Hotel.

King’s Arms landlady Marjorie Davies said: “The news hit the people in the kitchen hard. He will be greatly missed.”

A charity football match will be held on March 15 - the day before Mr Nelson’s birthday - on the playing field next to the village hall.

It will be played by older and younger members of the Blakeney Football League, which Mr Nelson was a member of.

He also trained budding footballers at Blakeney Primary School in his spare time.

Mr Nelson had two sisters, two brothers and a half brother.

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