25.09.2022

Wrexham man, 86, dies following three-hour wait for an ambulance after being hit by car

A great-grandfather who was struck down by a hit-and-run driver died after waiting three hours for an ambulance, his family has said.

George Stevenson, 86, suffered internal bleeding after being hit by a red Citroen C2 in Wrexham, Wales, on the night of March 2.

The retired undertaker was hit at around 7.30pm but was left lying on the ‘cold, wet road’ until 10.38pm when paramedics arrived, his granddaughter has said.

Mr Stevenson’s condition became critical and he died at Wrexham Maelor Hospital from a suspected cardiac arrest just after midnight.

His death is still being investigated by a coroner to determine whether it could have been avoided.

Police who arrived on the scene first called an ambulance after Mr Stevenson began suffering chest pains — which would have made him a Category 2 emergency. These callouts are supposed to be seen within 20 minutes.

It comes as NHS ambulance services are currently facing a crisis across Britain, with paramedics continually unable to meet emergency response time targets.

The system is struggling amid staffing shortages, unprecedented demand and a lack of hospital beds blamed on problems in social care.

George Stevenson, 86, was struck down by a red Citroen in Wrexham, Wales, on March 2 and police called an ambulance after he started feeling chest pains

Ambulance figures for April show waits for paramedics fell compared to March but were higher than nearly all other months since records began. Ambulances took an average of 51 minutes and 22 seconds to respond to category two calls, such as burns, epilepsy and strokes. This is nine minutes and 41 seconds quicker than one month earlier

The number of safety incidents logged by ambulance trusts in England has skyrocketed 77 per cent in the last year compared to before the pandemic, official figures show. The reports — which paramedics log with the NHS when an incident risks long-term harm or death to a patient — jumped from 312 in the year to March 2020 to 551 in the 12 months to March 2022. The figures, which mainly reflect harm due to ‘access, admission or transfer’ problems, include 201 unintended deaths, more than double the 78 logged two years ago

Ex-paramedic’s wife dies after waiting 90 minutes for an ambulance

A former paramedic who campaigned for better rural ambulance cover has shared his heartbreak after his wife died in his arms during a 90-minute wait.

Nigel Mitchell, of County Durham, had been married to Gill for more than four decades when she suffered a fatal cardiac arrest in October last year.

A paramedic of 32 years, Mr Mitchell knew his wife was classified as a category one call, the most serious type of medical emergency, where help is needed in minutes.

But a 999 call handler told him he faced a wait of an hour-and-a-half for his old employer, North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), to arrive.

He believes the emergency services operator didn’t consider it so urgent because he could hear her speak in the background.

Refusing to wait, Mr Mitchell drove his wife to the nearest community defibrillator two miles away.

Mr Mitchell said a paramedic arrived after about 45 minutes and in the end a total of four ambulance service vehicles and a helicopter turned up.

Although Mrs Mitchell was flown to hospital she was declared dead on arrival.

Mr Stevenson’s granddaughter Ellie Williams has set up a petition for more funding to ambulance services in Wales.

The campaign has received more than 100,000 signatures and is set to be put before the Welsh Parliament.

Reflecting on the moments before Mr Stevenson’s death, she said: ‘He was left laying on the cold, wet road.

‘He had no previous heart conditions and was doing okay but unfortunately, by the time the ambulance eventually arrived and they attempted to move him he went into cardiac arrest.

‘We fear that he may have had an internal bleed, which left for over four and a half hours has proved critical and ended with my Grandad passing away.

‘The wait on ambulances is becoming a matter of life or death and something drastically needs to change, it’s happening all too often.’

Mr Stevenson’s provisional cause of death has been listed as severe chest injuries due to a road traffic collision.

The injuries can cause internal bleeding, which is deadly when untreated because of the combination of blood loss and the strain it puts on other organs.

Patients may need surgery to stop the blood loss and clean out any pooled fluids if the bleeding is severe enough.

Operations are not always possible if a person is too old or the damage is too severe.

Ms Williams said paramedics are ‘being prevented’ from doing their jobs because there are no ambulance available or beds to drop patients off at hospital.

She said: ‘We are in 2022, there are people dying due to the waiting times of ambulances and the lack of beds.

‘We need to do something about this together.’

Following Mr Stevenson’s death, the Welsh Ambulance Service and local health board released a joint statement, saying it is facing ‘significant challenges’.

It said: ‘In common with NHS providers across the UK, we are facing significant challenges across the whole health and social care system.

‘We are acutely aware of the impact that these challenges have on patients, particularly when we are unable to transfer them from ambulances into our Emergency Departments, and release ambulance crews as swiftly as we would like.

‘We understand people’s concern and frustration about delayed ambulance responses and long waits outside Emergency Departments, and we are deeply sorry for the added distress these cause our patients and their families.

‘It falls well below the level of service we strive to provide.’

Mr Stevenson’s inquest has been adjourned with no fixed date.

North Wales Police arrested the 40-year-old driver of the Citroen on suspicion of dangerous diving offences in March.

The driver was released under investigation while inquiries continue.

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