May 24 2013 Latest news:
BY RICHARD CORNWELL, Felixstowe editor
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
A SON has today spoken of his disgust after his 95-year-old mum spent her last day alive in agonising pain waiting nearly four hours for an ambulance to take her to hospital.
AMBULANCE chiefs say crew rotas are to be revised to increase cover in the county following concerns about demand outweighing resources.
A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust said in Nora Dennington’s case the doctor’s receptionist said “the doctor had asked for an ambulance within an hour but did not request an emergency vehicle, simply transport”.
The hour deadline was not met because of the service was so busy but officials did call to check on her condition twice during the delay and were told she had not worsened and had no critical symptoms.
“We have written to the complainant with a full apology and the results of an investigation conducted into this incident,” said the spokeswoman.
“This was a request for non emergency transport to hospital based on a GP’s assessment that the patient had stomach pain and no critical symptoms.
“Due to workload with patients in greater immediate need we did not pick up the patient within the hour requested but made regular calls to check her symptoms hadn’t worsened.
“Unfortunately demand was extremely high with many 999 calls as well as urgent GP admissions like this.
“There were also ambulances unable to handover patients at hospital due to a high number of admissions which meant delays in them becoming available.
“Occasionally demand outweighs resource and regrettably this was one of those times but in order to address this issue rotas are being revised in Suffolk so that not only will the county have more resources, particularly in Felixstowe which will see coverage increased by more than 115 vehicle hours a week, but they will be better placed to get to patients when and where they are needed.”
Eric Dennington said there was nothing he could do for his mum Nora, who suffered from dementia, except sit and reassure her as she repeatedly said, “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. The doctor had told us it would be a blue light job. When the reception rang to see where the ambulance was they were told it was on its way.”
Mr Dennington, who lives with his wife Joyce at Dawson Drive, Trimley St Mary, and worked at East Anglian Building Supplies in Felixstowe 20 years, said when the ambulance arrived it was a St John Ambulance but they were not able to administer the morphine his mum 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.”
In addition to making a formal complaint to the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, he had also written to his MP Therese Coffey to voice his concern.
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 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 but her family stress that her death had no connection with the delay in the ambulance’s arrival.