Mother's fear after ambulance delay

DELAYS in an ambulance reaching a man who had severed an artery risked his life, his mother has claimed.Ricardo Wells slashed an artery in his arm after putting his hand through a window and eventually endured a ten and a half hour operation to repair the damage.

A MOTHER today fears her son could have died after police were forced to take him to hospital when an ambulance did not reach him on time.

Ricardo Wells severed an artery in his arm after putting his hand through a window and eventually endured a ten and a half hour operation to repair the damage.

Doctors told his mother Karen Haynes that if medical attention had been delayed any longer her son could have died.

However ambulance bosses said they were only four minutes beyond their target time and the information they had been given during the call had resulted in Mr Wells being put into a lower category than he should have been.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service today highlighted the need for accurate information to be passed to them to help them prioritise their calls.

Today as she questions what happened on that night in February, another mother whose son died after an ambulance failed to reach him during an asthma attack is still waiting for answers.

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More than a year-and-a-half after David Halley-Frame died, his mother Diane still has not had answers from the Healthcare Commission which is investigating the tragedy.

In the more recent incident Mrs Haynes of Robeck Road, Ipswich said she was told there were no ambulances available after she claimed she called three times for assistance.

However a spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said that while three calls had been received, they had been within three minutes of one another, one had been cut off, another terminated by the caller and a final one was from the police themselves.

The incident happened at around 11pm on Friday, February 9, at a family party in Robeck Road. Police finally called the ambulance at 11.38pm.

Mrs Haynes said: “The pavement was a sea of red and he was losing consciousness. I kept calling for an ambulance as did others who were standing around watching but none ever came.

“The last time I called they told me there were none available.”

During the panic of the wait for an ambulance Mrs Haynes was arrested for swearing at officers who attempted to keep her, and a large group which had gathered, away from her son.

At South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court on April 26 she pleaded guilty to a charge of causing harassment or distress but claimed it was simply because she was so worried about her son.

The 47-year-old said: “I kept shouting at the police officers to get an ambulance and get him to hospital.

“He fell unconscious on the floor and blood was pumping out of his arm.

“Eventually they (the police) put him in the police car and took him to hospital because the ambulance didn't turn up.

“He ended up in Norwich hospital where he had a ten-and-a-half hour operation because he had severed an artery and nerve in his hand. He now has a scar because his arm had to be cut even more to relieve the pressure of the built up blood.

“They said if he didn't have treatment at the time he would have died.”

At court Mrs Haynes was given a six-month conditional discharge.

A spokeswoman for the Suffolk Constabulary said: “Police were on scene and waited for an ambulance. “At 11.53pm an east of Ipswich police unit took a man to hospital. He was left in the care of the hospital staff.”


A spokesman for the ambulance service said: “We were called to a man with injuries described as a cut hand at 11.38pm on Friday, February 9. After questioning the caller about the injury the call was logged as Category B.

“A rapid response vehicle and an ambulance were immediately despatched to the scene.

“However, while on route they were diverted to a 999 call with reports of an unconscious man - a Category A call.

“A further rapid response vehicle was immediately dispatched to the original call, and this arrived on scene 23 minutes after the first

call was made. By this time the police officers at the scene had already departed with the patient for hospital.

“At the time this call came in we were experiencing a particularly high number of 999 calls in the East Suffolk area, with ten vehicles already attending 999 calls."

Ambulance Call Responses

CATEGORY A - 75per cent of all category A (life-threatening calls) should bed reached within eight minutes.

CATEGORY B - should be reached within 19 minutes. Need to be attended quickly, but conditions will not suffer by a slightly slower response time than category A calls.

CATEGORY C - Non life-threatening calls which may not warrant the attendance of an ambulance, such as someone who has had a fall and needs help but is not injured.

URGENT CALLS - requested by doctors who thinks a patients needs an emergency admission. The aim is for 95per cent of patients to get to the hospital within 15 minutes of the time specified by the doctor.

ROUTINE CALLS - booked in advance, usually performed by the Patient Transport Service part of the ambulance trust. To take patients to and from hospital when no other transport is available.


IN 1996 The Evening Star launched its Ambulance Watch campaign after the death of Brian Woolnough.

Mr Woolnough died in Ipswich Hospital after waiting 40 minutes for an ambulance crew to reach his home.

The Star's three year campaign resulted in a public inquiry into the Ambulance Service's failings after which the chief executive Tony Blaber resigned on health grounds.

Our persistence and determination to secure a better service for the people of Suffolk resulted in the then health minister Frank Dobson ordering the inquiry.

Ten years later, in October 2006, the East of England Ambulance Service had improved dramatically and was rated as “good” on quality of services and “fair” on use of resources.

Despite increased call capacity, the service was managing to hit national targets and average response times were much faster.

The government states that 75 per cent of all life-threatening calls should be reached within eight minutes and 95pc within 19 minutes - targets which ambulances in East Anglia now continue to meet.

In 2005, the service struggled to hit the 95pc target but, on average, response times fell to just under eight minutes for all types of calls.

Sometimes, at times of peak demand resources are still overstretched and nowhere has this been more poignantly highlighted than in the case of Ipswich man David Halley-Frame, a young asthmatic who died after waiting from more than half-an-hour for an ambulance in August 2005.

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