December 11 2013 Latest news:
Andrew Fitchett, Reporter
Friday, September 27, 2013
An inquest has heard how a “catalogue of catastrophes” by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust contributed to the death of a three-month-old baby girl.
Bella Hellings, from Thetford, died after a string of errors from the emergency service, including the wrong ambulance being assigned to her 999 call, another ambulance having to fill up with petrol en route and the driver getting lost on the way to hospital.
An inquest at Norfolk Coroner’s Court today heard how Bella’s mother, Amy Carter, had called an ambulance just after 11am on March 11, after her daughter had started to fit and stopped breathing.
But the paramedics did not arrive at her house until 26 minutes later - overshooting the service’s target time for emergency calls by 18 minutes.
Delivering a narrative conclusion, coroner William Armstrong said the delays were “wholly indefensible” and had “reduced the prospects of her survival”.
“This was a terrible tragedy involving the loss of a young life and the grief that her family have experienced is compounded by the knowledge that this dreadful death may have been avoided,” he said.
He added: “This was not one problem but a series of serious shortcomings, a catalogue of catastrophes.”
Evidence was heard by the two paramedics working that morning, Caron Keenes and Sharon Jaggard.
Ms Keenes was working her first shift following training and admitted that they had difficulty finding Ms Carter’s house - having already filled up with fuel on the A11 on the way.
Having taken ten minutes to find the address, on Fraser Close, Ms Keenes then proceeded to assist with CPR, before taking the wheel for the drive to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.
Ms Keenes told the inquest she was not familar with the route to the hospital and was relying on Sat Nav for directions, taking longer than expected for the 15 mile drive.
Speaking afterwards, solicitor Sharon Allision gave a statement on behalf of Bella’s family.
It read: “We do not blame any of the individuals involved but we do blame the system.”
For the full story see tomorrow’s EDP.