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Ambulance Failure

National Media - January 2017

A pensioner bled to death after it took paramedics more than two-and-a-half hours to get him to hospital following a fall.

Richard Hansbury, 65, who had a serious gash on his head, was discovered in his flat by neighbours when they heard his cries for help.

They alerted the careline firm that operated the emergency contact system at his sheltered accommodation in Wigan and an ambulance was called.

Even though Mr Hansbury was bleeding heavily and the 999 was flagged as a serious ‘red’ call – meaning paramedics should have been there within eight minutes – the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) was so busy it was more than an hour until the crew arrived.

They treated Mr Hansbury, who weighed 19 stone, but soon realised they would need help from another crew to lift him into the ambulance and get him to hospital – just three-and-a-half miles away.

However, when they called for back-up, operators said there was none available at the time. The father of two finally made it to hospital two hours and 42 minutes after the first 999 call.

But by then it was too late. Mr Hansbury’s blood pressure had dropped to a dangerously low level due to severe blood loss. He suffered three heart attacks and died less than three hours later.

Yesterday the Daily Mail revealed that the crisis-hit ambulance service is so short of paramedics that desperate NHS trusts across the country are offering new recruits a £10,000 starting bonus.

It comes as the service faces unprecedented demand – and the human costs soar as waiting times rise even for the most serious emergencies.

On the day of Mr Hansbury's death, the service was ‘extremely busy’ and as many as 15 ambulances were stuck in queues at hospitals across Greater Manchester 

A report into the death of Mr Hansbury by a senior ambulance boss, seen by the Daily Mail, reveals that on the day he died, October 3, the service was ‘extremely busy’ and as many as 15 ambulances were stuck in queues at hospitals across Greater Manchester as paramedics waited to hand over their patients to A&E doctors.

Last night Mr Hansbury’s sister, Rosaline Fox, 66, told the Daily Mail she was ‘absolutely appalled’ by the way her brother was let down.

The retired district nurse said: ‘It’s barbaric that Richard died that way. The bottom line is that if the ambulance service had arrived in any sort of reasonable time my brother would still be alive today.

It’s barbaric that Richard died that way. The bottom line is that if the ambulance service had arrived in any sort of reasonable time my brother would still be alive today. 

Rosaline Fox

‘For the Government to say there is not a crisis, and we just have to put up with it, is wrong. Somebody at the top must lose their job.’

Mrs Fox, from St Anne’s in Lancashire, added: ‘The report spells it out – an ambulance should have been with him within eight minutes and at most he should have been at the hospital within 20 minutes.

‘That would have given him a fighting chance.

‘At the time there were ambulances backing up at hospitals waiting to hand over patients – that’s a complete waste of their resources.

‘I’m very upset about the lack of care Richard received. He would have been frightened. Nobody should suffer like this.

‘I’ve worked in the NHS, I know what goes on. Richard was desperately let down by the NHS when he needed it the most.

‘How many more people need to die before something is done?’ Mr Hansbury, a retired long-distance lorry driver, fell and banged his head at his sheltered accommodation on the evening of October 3 last year.

Father-of-two Mr Hansbury finally made it to hospital two hours and 42 minutes after the first 999 call was made
A neighbour who heard his shouts for help climbed into his flat through the kitchen window and activated the alarm system, which called for an ambulance at 6.11pm. When there was still no sign of it by 6.30pm, a second call was made.

By then Mr Hansbury – who was on the blood-thinning drug warfarin for other health problems – was becoming weak due to blood loss.

A third, more desperate call was made by the careline provider at 7.04pm as neighbours tried to stem the blood flow from Mr Hansbury’s head wound. 

At 7.16pm the ambulance finally arrived and paramedics started treating Mr Hansbury, but realised they would need help lifting him in. A second crew was eventually allocated at 8.03pm and arrived nine minutes later.

Mr Hansbury was taken to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan, and arrived at 8.53pm – a full two hours and 42 minutes after the initial 999 call.

Doctors began treating him but he died at 11.48pm.

A post-mortem examination concluded he died primarily of blood loss from the head wound.

The report into Mr Hansbury’s death reveals that on that day the service responded to 801 emergency calls between 11am and 8pm. 

At 2pm that day the service initiated its ‘high-demand script’ – which means call handlers will advise all those dialling 999 that there is likely to be a delay in getting an ambulance because the service is overwhelmed. This was not rescinded until 1am.

Mr Hansbury, who had five siblings, lived alone but had two grown-up daughters from two previous marriages.
He had suffered heart problems and a stroke in the past.

His family are now considering taking legal action against the ambulance service. 


PATIENT'S TIMELINE OF DESPAIR
6.11pm: First 999 call made by careline provider
6.31pm: Second call made
7.04pm: Third 999 made
7.13pm: Ambulance finally allocated by North West Ambulance Service control room
7.16pm: Ambulance arrives at Mr Hansbury’s home
7.47pm: Paramedics request a second crew to help get Mr Hansbury to hospital, but none available
8.03pm: Ambulance allocated by control room
8.12pm: Second crew arrives at Mr Hansbury’s home
8.53pm: Mr Hansbury arrives at hospital – two hours and 42 minutes after the first 999 call
9.12pm: Mr Hansbury suffers first cardiac arrest
9.21pm: Medics manage to resuscitate him
9.43pm: Mr Hansbury suffers second cardiac arrest
9.55pm: Medics again manage to resuscitate him
11.48pm: Mr Hansbury suffers a third heart attack and dies
   
NWAS is the largest ambulance trust in the UK. In September it revealed it was struggling to meet Government response times – which require 75 per cent of all ‘red’ calls to be reached within eight minutes – and blamed a 25 per cent increase in call-outs.

It reached just 69 per cent of the most serious cases in eight minutes in 2015 – the third-worst record nationwide.
A spokesman for NWAS said an investigation had been launched.

She added: ‘We can confirm that at the time of the incident the Trust was experiencing a high demand and, unfortunately, a number of our resources were waiting with patients at nearby hospitals.

An inquest into Mr Hansbury’s death is due to take place on Friday.