Inquest into Ambulance Waiting Times

A Flintshire man has died in his home following complications linked to a heart condition – despite dialling 999 three times and waiting in excess of 40 minutes for help to arrive.

What happened?

Fred Pring, 74, passed away in March 2013 as a result of heart and pulmonary disease.

Mr Pring’s wife, Joyce, called the emergency services when she discovered her husband crying in pain. Over three separate calls, Mrs Pring was told that the ambulance service was busy in the area.

Mrs Pring called a fourth time to announce that her husband had died.

North East Wales coroner John Gittins commented:

“Although it cannot be established with certainty that Mr Pring would have survived if help
had reached him sooner, it is probable that if an ambulance had arrived promptly after
the first call (within the target response time of eight minutes), he would have
lived long enough to be transported to hospital where further medical
treatment would have optimised the prospects of his survival”

Mr Gittens advised that his report would be sent to the health board and ambulance service, so as to highlight “concerns that unless action is taken, circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will continue to exist”.

What Went Wrong?

During the inquest, held in Ruthin, Gill Pleming of the ambulance service revealed that on the day of Mr Pring’s death, there were seven ambulances and one rapid response vehicle assigned to the Flitshire and Wrexham area.

However, none of the vehicles was free at the time of Mrs Pring’s first call – on the day of Mr Pring’s death, one ambulance waited almost five hours to hand over a patient at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, and another spent around an hour and a half at the same hospital in the patient transfer queue.

Mrs Pring said:

“I sincerely hope that my husband’s death will lead to improvements in
the way the Welsh Ambulance Trust and the hospitals manage
their services especially in respect of the handovers
of patients to A and E departments.”

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