Woman dies as ambulance takes 38 minutes to reach cardiac arrest patient

A man whose mother died after a cardiac arrest has called for local ambulance stations to reopen after it took nearly 40 minutes for paramedics to reach her.

Sandra Francis' family have spoken of their devsatation and questioned if she could have been saved by a quicker ambulance reponse.
Sandra Francis' family have spoken of their devsatation and questioned if she could have been saved by a quicker ambulance reponse.

Sandra Francis, 66, died at her home in Oswestry, on Tuesday morning.

She had woken up unwell with her husband calling an ambulance before her son, Wayne, and grandson Jude headed over to help.

Jude had gone to get the nearest defibrillator while Mr Francis carried out CPR when he arrived.

Mr Francis said that he believes his mother could have survived if Oswestry Ambulance station – which was closed earlier this year – was still manned.

West Midlands Ambulance Service has apologised for the delay in getting to Mrs Francis, and said it had sent the nearest available ambulance.

The service has also said that with no free ambulances in Shropshire at the time of the 999 call, even if the station was manned, there would have been no ambulance to send from Oswestry.

A spokesman for the service said that hospital handover delays – where ambulances wait to pass patients over to hospital care – were also impacting the time it takes to get to patients.

The first call to the ambulance service was made at around 6.23am, with a crew reaching Mrs Francis at 7.01am.

National targets say ambulances must respond to Category 1 calls – such as cardiac arrests – in seven minutes on average, and to 90 per cent of Category 1 calls in 15 minutes.

Mr Francis praised the ambulance staff who had tried to save his mum, but said the family were left questioning if she could have been saved.

"They were impeccable, they were absolutely brilliant," he said.

"We will never know whether my mum would have survived. My argument is that, if Oswestry's ambulance station had been manned, a crew could have been at their house in five minutes as it is just a short walk from the station. I am absolutely livid.

"Oswestry is the third largest town in Shropshire, it is completely unacceptable that it does not have an ambulance base.

"I've lost my mum, my kids have lost a nan, our family have lost a lovely woman. We are completely distraught."

A spokesman for the ambulance service said: “We would like to apologise for the delay in getting to Mrs Francis. The nearest ambulance was sent to her.

“Unfortunately, hospital handover delays do mean patients are waiting longer for an ambulance to come to them in the community.

“We are working with all local partners across the health and care system to reduce delays so crews can respond to the next incident as quickly as possible and staff and volunteers continue to work tirelessly to respond as soon as we can.

“We are continuing to bolster frontline and control room staffing and have introduced a number of measures to help manage pressures in the service.”

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