Sheringham man waited three hours for ambulance

A Sheringham man who had a heart attack waited three hours for an ambulance, his angry family said today.

James Sadler's wife Rose called 999 at 4.45pm on Sunday because she was concerned he was having a heart attack.

While paramedics were on scene at the family home in Ash Grove within minutes to care for the 65-year-old, his family said his heart stopped while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

It eventually turned up at 7.45pm but his heart stopped again in the ambulance on the way to hospital. Mr Sadler, who is known to family and friends as Jimmy, is recovering after having a stent put in his artery.

Mr Sadler's older brother William, 74, who lives in nearby Woodland Rise, said: 'The service up at the hospital and the paramedics were brilliant. It was just waiting three hours for the ambulance to come and take him away which was scandalous. We could have lost him.'

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A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: 'This incident is of significant concern to the trust and has been raised for a thorough investigation.

'While Mr Sadler was under the expert care of a highly trained clinician during the wait for an ambulance to take him to hospital we offer our sincere apologies to him and his family as the length of this wait was simply not acceptable. We would like to reassure patients however that under new rotas soon to be introduced Norfolk will benefit from more than 160 hours extra coverage a week to tackle isolated back up issues such as this.'

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The EDP launched its Ambulance Watch in response to increasing concerns over rural response times, back-up ambulance delays, poor turnaround times at hospitals for ambulances and a controversial staff and vehicle rota redesign.

The North Norfolk Labour Party is also continuing its campaign against cuts to the ambulance service by taking up the case of Mr Sadler and other people living in the area.

Denise Burke, chairman of North Norfolk Labour Party, said: 'These horror stories about ambulance response times in north Norfolk only represent the bigger picture before the government cuts have hit. As demand continues to grow across the country we remain deeply worried about what will happen when we arrive in the busy winter months, which is when Norfolk loses approximately seven double-staffed ambulances.

'The East of England Ambulance Service Trust has pledged to review the cuts in north Norfolk on a monthly basis, and so we hope that patients will continue to speak up about their experiences.

'As well as continuing our petition against the cuts we now want our MP, Norman Lamb, and the government to rethink their support for the cuts to ambulance funding at a time when demand for the service is increasing. The prime minister made a commitment in 2010 not to cut front-line services - his ministers should stick to it.'

This week North Norfolk Labour Party members will be on the streets of Cromer armed with their petition and the giant Act on Ambulances postcards. They have also written once more to the East of England Ambulance Service to see whether there have been any further developments with the monthly review promised for North Walsham.

While the NHS, unlike other areas of public spending, has seen its budget ring-fenced rather than slashed, those in the health economy argue that many factors means this actually feels like a funding cut.

However, in 2009, NHS chief executive David Nicholson outlined a challenge for the NHS to make �20bn of efficiency savings which is having an impact on services. The idea was to save the money so that it could be ploughed back into providing services squeezed by rising demand, a growing elderly population and ever more expensive equipment and drugs.

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