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Ambulance Waiting Times: A Growing Concern in The UK

The overstretched NHS ambulance services are a major concern, with increased waiting times leaving many in need.

medical negligence claims

We sadly see too many cases of medical negligence where people’s conditions have become worse or fatal as a result of these failings.

A tragic example of the potential consequences of a call handling failure was in today’s news.

Beryl Styles, 59, passed away from complications caused by diabetes while waiting for an ambulance. Her husband, Derek, from Irlam told the Manchester Evening News how his wife of 40 years died in his arms because paramedics took three hours to arrive. A coroner’s report revealed the cause of death as diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening complication that can be treated with early intervention.

An investigation by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) into the incident in March this year revealed failings in the way Derek’s original 999 call was handled.

Government guidelines state that ambulance trusts should reach 75 per cent of life-threatening Category A calls within eight minutes.

The trust has since said the call was incorrectly categorised as non-life threatening, despite Beryl’s symptoms including breathing difficulties and loss of vision.

A spokesman for NWAS told the Manchester Evening News: “The Trust conducted a thorough investigation into the incident and has reported the findings in full back to the family.

“Our investigation concluded that errors were made during the call taking process which resulted in a delay to our response. This was further compounded by the closure of a nearby motorway which hindered our progress.

“Since then, work has taken place to look at how we can better manage the information we receive about road closures and communicate this to each of our call centres across the region. The individuals concerned have also undergone reflective practice and learning to ensure similar errors are not repeated.”

Government guidelines state that ambulance trusts should reach 75 per cent of life-threatening Category A calls within eight minutes.

The emergency services categorise these calls as Red 1, which are the most critical and involve severe breathing problems and cardiac arrests, and Red 2 calls, which are considered serious but less time critical, for strokes and fits.


Zak Golombeck is an associate, specialising in medical negligence claims at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.

The clinical negligence solicitors at Slater and Gordon specialise in claims against the NHS, GPs, private doctors and hospitals arising out of negligent medical treatment and acts on behalf of injured victims. If you’ve been affected, and need legal advice, please contact one of our medical negligence specialists.

For a free consultation about a clinical or medical negligence compensation claim call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you.

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