Ambulance watch: Elderly woman spent last day alive in pain due to ambulance wait
16:09 05 October 2012
The region-wide concerns over the ambulance service have been highlighted by the case of Nora Dennington, who spent her last day alive in agonising pain waiting nearly four hours for an ambulance to take her to hospital.
Ambulance officials have carried out an investigation into the incident and apologised to the family for the delay.
The 95-year-old, who had dementia, was seen by a doctor who told her family she needed a “blue light” ambulance to take her to hospital immediately.
An ambulance was called at 3.31pm but one was not dispatched until 6.36pm, arriving at her home at Deben View care home in Woodbridge, Suffolk, just after 7pm.
There was then a further nine-minute delay until a paramedic could arrive and after that Mrs Dennington was taken to Ipswich Hospital.
She died the following day. Her family stress that her death had no connection with the delay in the ambulance’s arrival.
Her son Eric Dennington, 73, said during the afternoon his mother had repeatedly told him, “I just want to die.”
He said: “She had agonising stomach pain and we were told the ambulance would be a blue light job and would be with her very quickly – by the time she got to hospital it was nearly four hours.
“I couldn’t do anything for her and it was difficult for her to move because she was in such pain.
“I couldn’t give her anything – I’m not a medical man and as far as I knew the ambulance would be there any minute.
“When the reception rang to see where the ambulance was they were told it was on its way.”
Mr Dennington said when the ambulance arrived it was a St John Ambulance but the crew was not able to administer the morphine his mother needed.
A paramedic then had to be called. “No one should have to wait for an ambulance that length of time in any circumstances. I was disgusted,” he said.
“We keep reading of similar cases and the situation doesn’t seem to get any better.
“I feel very let down.”
A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said the request had been for non-emergency transport and at the time 999 demand had been “extremely high” with delays in the handover of patients at hospital, and demand for ambulances outweighing resources.
In addition to making a formal complaint to the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Mr Dennington has also written to his MP Therese Coffey to voice his concern.
Dr Coffey, parliamentary representative for Suffolk Coastal, said: “I have written to the chairman of the ambulance trust, Maria Ball, outlining my concerns about the shocking level of service provided and am demanding changes.”
She added: “I have tasked the chairman to make a step change in performance and expect that by the time we meet in November there will be a noticeable difference for all patients.”