Equipment fails twice on heart dash

Emergency heart attack proposals were in danger of flat lining today after vital ambulance equipment failed twice while taking a patient to hospital.

IPSWICH: Emergency heart attack proposals were in danger of flat lining today after vital ambulance equipment failed twice while taking a patient to hospital.

Paramedics were forced to make a swift u-turn five minutes into the journey when the batteries went dead on a unit administering stabilising drugs to Jeffrey Byfield.

The problem happened again when the ambulance was 15 miles from Papworth Hospital, where the 48-year-old was due to undergo specialist angioplasty surgery.

Mr Byfield also claimed the heart monitor had to be placed on the floor due to lack of space, giving inaccurate readings because of the bumps in the road.


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Although Mr Byfield's condition was not acute - he had been stabilised at Ipswich Hospital two days earlier - he said the situation could have been fatal for someone in a more serious situation.

He said: “When these pumps fail, it means you have no pain relief or anti-clotting drugs. The whole process is hit-and-miss because they haven't got the proper gear on board. I would be very surprised if someone hasn't already died.”

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It is not yet known whether the ambulance belonged to the East of England Ambulance service or if it was commissioned privately by Ipswich Hospital.

However, a spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said they were looking into the case.

Mr Byfield, of Avondale Road, Ipswich, was speaking out days after The Evening Star revealed medics had to abort a road dash to Papworth before even leaving the Ipswich site when a patient's condition rapidly deteriorated.

In Mr Byfield's case, he was stabilised with clot-busting drugs at Ipswich Hospital after suffering a heart attack on October 21. Two days later, he was being taken to Papworth when the technical issues occurred.

Mr Byfield, who runs a car valeting company, said: “I am not knocking the medical staff because they were fantastic, but if they continue transferring people in these ambulances they will have more deaths on their hands.”

In June, a former top doctor feared these scenarios may occur and called for the whole scheme to move emergency patients to regional centres to be scrapped.

Dr Douglas Seaton, who was consultant physician at Ipswich Hospital for 27 years before retiring in 2006, said: “The paramedics are highly trained, but the facilities in an ambulance are obviously limited.”

Should the emergency heart attack proposals go ahead? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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