Ambulance delay puts life at risk
A WOMAN who had a potentially fatal brain haemorrhage had to wait more than 90 minutes for an ambulance which had been held up
A WOMAN who had a potentially fatal brain haemorrhage had to wait more than 90 minutes for an ambulance which had been held up at Weston General Hospital.Jennifer Howe, aged 56, of Myrtleberry Road, Wick St Lawrence, called for an ambulance because she had a severe migraine.The first of three 999 calls was made from her home just after 11pm. After calling for a third time, at 12.35am, Jennifer's husband took his wife to the Grange Road hospital himself.An ambulance could not make it out to the couple's home because it had been held up 'handing over' a patient at Weston General Hospital.Mrs Howe was later diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage and was taken by ambulance to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for emergency specialist treatment. She says a letter received after she complained shows that her case is an example of the difficulties being faced by emergency teams in Weston as a result of 'limited resources' and paramedics facing 'lengthy delays' when dropping off patients at the hospital. Greater Western Ambulance Trust, which operates the response teams from Cheltenham down to Salisbury, also says it has sometimes been forced to send out crews staffed by technicians, who are not trained to the same level as paramedics.The letter from trust boss Tim Lynch says: "We have to prioritise our calls as our service only has limited resources with which to ensure safe coverage across a large geographical area. "At times this requires making difficult judgements as to the priorities of patients."During this busy period we were experiencing lengthy delays in transferring patients to hospital staff at two of our local accident and emergency departments, one of which was Weston General Hospital."This had a significant impact on our ability to deliver an efficient service and unfortunately this had a direct impact on our ability to transport you (Mrs Howe) to hospital within an acceptable timeframe."A Weston General Hospital spokeswoman said: "It is not correct that ambulances are taking longer than necessary to get in and out of the hospital. "There are occasions when high numbers of ambulances arrive at the same time, causing a backlog, particularly if the A&E department is already experiencing pressure in relation to the number of patients. "The trust works closely with the ambulance service to minimise occasions when this occurs.