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‘I’ve never been so scared’ – mum thought she was watching son die during two-hour ambulance wait

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 October 2017

Sophia Walton and her son George, who had a severe asthma attack and had to wait for two hours for an ambulance.

Sophia Walton and her son George, who had a severe asthma attack and had to wait for two hours for an ambulance.


A Weston-super-Mare mum says she felt like she was ‘watching her son die’ as they waited two hours for an ambulance while he could barely breathe.

George Walton, aged 14, suffers from asthma and on Friday night a bad cough and cold escalated and he was struggling to breathe.

Weston General’s A&E was closed for the night, so his mum Sophia Walton called 111 for help.

George then began vomiting and his eyes started rolling back into his head, so call handlers dispatched an ambulance to him.

Help did not arrive for two hours and South Western Ambulance Service is blaming high demand and overstretched resources.

Sophia said: “He was having an asthma attack the entire time and I had to ventilate him using a plastic carrier bag.

“I have never been so scared in my life. I felt like I was sitting there watching my son die; his eyes were rolling, he was exhausted, he couldn’t breathe.”

Ms Walton said the medical professionals were ‘fantastic’ but she fears the ‘system is broken’.

She added: “The crew came from Nailsea, gave him a nebuliser, and he was stable in a matter of minutes.

“I’m not knocking the staff, they are doing the best they can, but something needs to change.”

Sophia fears the night-time closure of A&E is putting people at risk, and she said: “If I could have kept him alive and driven him to Bristol at the same time, I would have, but I’m not superhuman.

“Ambulances are taking people to Bristol and it’s leaving Weston without any.”

An ambulance spokesman said its staff do ‘everything they can’ to attend as many incidents as possible when demand is high.

They added that patients in life-threatening, time-critical situations are prioritised, and said: “Sometimes we don’t always get to other patients as quickly as we would like as our resources are stretched to the limit due to the volume of calls we receive.

“This patient was reported to be breathing and conscious throughout and our highly-skilled clinicians were able to treat the patient at the scene.”

Previously ambulance workers raised concerns about a lack of crews on the ground to the Mercury, saying it was ‘playing with people’s lives’, but NHS bosses insisted the service was coping well with demand caused by A&E’s closure.

Sophia is urging people to contact North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group to share their views on the closure.

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