Empty ambulance parked as David died

GRIEF turned to anger today for the family of asthma victim David Halley-Frame as it emerged that an extra ambulance should have been on duty on the morning he died.

GRIEF turned to anger today for the family of asthma victim David Halley-Frame as it emerged that an extra ambulance should have been on duty on the morning he died.

The Evening Star can today reveal that the East Anglian Ambulance Trust had a seventh ambulance sitting UNUSED when the 25-year-old was left without help for nearly half an hour because too many staff were on annual leave.

The trust has admitted that it had tried to man a full complement of ambulances in the town through Friday night and Saturday morning by offering staff overtime.

However the offers of extra pay were not accepted and, instead, the east division of Suffolk, which includes Ipswich and Stowmarket, was only covered by six ambulances.

And it can also be revealed that there should have been THREE more ambulances on duty across the county at the time Mr Halley-Frame, of King's Way, Ipswich, suffered what is thought to have been a massive asthma attack.

Today distraught relatives of the 25-year-old healthcare assistant at St Clement's Hospital reacted to the revelations with anger.

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Mr Halley-Frame's aunt, Janice Plumb, said: “It's not an acceptable excuse. They should ensure, come hell or high water, that the rota of ambulances they should have available is available.

“The fact staff are on annual leave shouldn't be anyone else's problem but the ambulance people.

“The extra ambulance in Ipswich could have made a difference.”

Mr Halley-Frame, an asthmatic all his life, died in Ipswich Hospital in the early hours of Saturday after suffering an asthma attack and collapsing in Ipswich's Upper Orwell Street during a night out in the town centre.

His panicked friends had called 999 but an ambulance did not arrive for an agonising 28 minutes because all the crews in Ipswich were already attending calls and the nearest available ambulance was in Bury St Edmunds - nearly 30 miles away.

Matthew Ware, a spokesman for the ambulance trust, said: “There were three crews instead of four. We were one crew down because of annual leave, which is at a peak at this time of year.

“All ambulance services drop a shift or two from time to time for this reason.”

However the Halley-Frame family labelled the explanation that annual leave could result in fewer ambulances able to respond to emergencies as “difficult to swallow”.

Mrs Plumb, of Severn Road, Ipswich, said: “I appreciate people are on annual leave or sick but it really doesn't wash with me. It's a 24/7 service and there's no getting away from it.

“They weren't far-sighted enough to know it was a busy bank holiday weekend coinciding with the end of the month when people got paid and were doing all sorts of things.”

Today the ambulance trust said the six vehicles on duty in east Suffolk were busy attending five separate calls, four of which were deemed life-threatening, at the time of the 999 call asking for help for Mr Halley-Smith.

Mr Ware said: “All other vehicles were on life-threatening or potentially serious calls. We were advised that Mr Halley-Frame was suffering from an asthma attack, which was, at the time, thought to be no more or less serious than any of the other calls.”

Have you experienced a long wait for an ambulance? Call The Evening Star newsdesk on or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

A SHARP increase in the number of 999 calls in recent years has seen ambulance services battling to cope with the strain.

The East Anglian Ambulance Trust says the volume of 999 calls has been “relentlessly increasing” for more than a decade - so much so that it has nearly doubled in five to six years.

Last year alone the trust responded to 16,000 calls.

A spokesman for the trust said: "This fact has been recognised by the commissioners of the ambulance service - the Primary Care Trusts - who have invested several million pounds in additional ambulance resources over this period.

“However, a detailed review undertaken by the service has shown definite gaps are present where, in exceptional circumstances, core volume may exceed the ability to respond.

“Following discussion with PCTs earlier in the summer, an independent ambulance consultancy has been appointed to undertake a review of our current capacity and demand as well as the future plans by the department of health to further tighten response time requirements.

“The report is being shared with PCTs and we hope to receive this around October-November of this year.”

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