Inquests to examine link between three OAP deaths after ambulance delays

The apparent late arrival of ambulances has been linked to the deaths of three pensioners in East Sussex, one of whom asphyxiated as she waited hours for paramedics to arrive.

The inquests into the deaths in summer 2017 began on Monday, and senior coroner Alan Craze said: “They all involve issues relating to the prompt dispatch of an ambulance.”

Daisy Filby, 90, had to wait for two hours and 25 minutes for an ambulance as she lay face down, unable to move, at her home in Seaford after a fall, the inquest heard.

Her daughter Linda Filby was unable to lift her up and kept ringing 999.

She said: “On the final occasion I called the ambulance my mum had just told me that her temperature was going up.

“I asked them to hurry as she was clearly now in distress.”

But her mother eventually stopped breathing and was pronounced dead after paramedics arrived, two hours and 25 minutes after the first call, the inquest heard.

Linda Filby said: “I feel that if the ambulance had arrived within the normal timescale the paramedics would have been able to help her up and sit her in a normal position which would have saved her life.”

A post-mortem examination put cause of death as postural asphyxia and hypertensive heart disease.

The coroner also heard about the death of 87-year-old great-grandfather Maurice Goodwin on August 31 2017.

He had been discharged from hospital that day and returned home, but soon complained of discomfort.

His family discovered that his trousers were soaked in “a lot” of blood from his catheter, which was also full of blood.

His wife of 64 years, Barbara Goodwin, called 999 at 5.52pm but was told an ambulance would not be coming and Mr Goodwin had been referred to the community team.

Concerned for her husband as time went on and nobody arrived, she kept calling 999.

She said: “Whilst I waited for the help Maurice tried to move to an adjacent dining chair but he slipped and banged the side of his head on the window sill.

“I had to leave him where he had fallen.”

District nurses arrived at 9.05pm – more than three hours after the first 999 call.

“They said it was too late and he had died,” Mrs Goodwin said.

“There is no doubt in our minds that his pain and distress was a contributing factor to his death.”

She told the inquest she wanted to know “why the ambulance service failed to attend what was clearly an emergency situation”.

“I wish more than anything that he hadn’t had to die like this.”

A post-mortem examination put cause of death as an exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and ischemic heart disease.

Anthony Harding’s wife called 999 at 6.32pm after he collapsed on August 21 2017.

The inquest heard that ambulance technician Chris Leahy was dispatched to Mr Harding’s home at 7.36pm and arrived at 7.45pm.

He found Mr Harding lying on his back in a bathroom but noted his airway was clear and he was able to talk.

However he then had a seizure and was sick, and Mr Leahy requested “red crew back-up”.

Paramedics arrived to assist Mr Leahy at 8.31pm and a critical care paramedic arrived at 10.21pm, but Mr Harding was pronounced dead at 10.34pm, the inquest heard.

A post-mortem examination put cause of death as a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The inquests continue, and are scheduled to run for three days.

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