Father reveals 999 horror as daughter, 14, left losing blood

A father was so worried his daughter might die of blood loss that he took her to hospital himself because of ambulance delays.

Isabelle. Picture: Ceri Flavell
Isabelle. Picture: Ceri Flavell

Ceri Flavell said his 14-year-old daughter Isabelle collapsed with “almost no blood pressure” when they arrived at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

Isabelle was at home in Oswestry following an operation in hospital and a minor bleed became so serious that he called 999.

Mr Flavell made the call on Sunday, September 25 at around 8.30pm. The call handler categorised it as a C2 call, the second highest category, which has a target reaction time of 18 minutes.

“After 60 minutes of trying to stop the bleed ourselves, the flow increased and we called for an ambulance as Isabelle was pale, sweating and becoming unresponsive,” said Ceri, aged 45.

“I asked if they could give an estimated arrival as she was bleeding so much and we were worried but they could not. The operator asked whether Isabelle had lost ‘more than a mug full of blood’. I responded that we were now looking at pints, not mugs. The operator stated ‘we’re really busy and don’t have any ambulances available’.”

“I responded: ‘You don’t have any ambulances available for a child losing so much blood that they’re now becoming unresponsive’? The operator responded: ‘I know you’re frustrated, but we’re really busy’.

Mr Flavell, who is married to Sarah, aged 43, added: “This wasn’t frustration, it was complete fear that I was going to lose my daughter.”

He added that he stated that he would take Isabelle to A&E in Shrewsbury to which the response was “if you cancel the ambulance, you won’t get one”.

He said: “I replied: ‘You haven’t got any anyway, so that comment means nothing.”

Worried that Isabelle’s condition was worsening with every drop of blood lost, he raced from Oswestry to Shrewsbury himself and took her to A&E. She collapsed and staff came running. “They had all the red buttons flashing and they couldn’t get a blood pressure reading. I thought I would lose her,” said Mr Flavell.

He added: “Whilst doctors stabilised Isabelle and administered IV meds and fluids, I went out to my car to get my phone and call family. I counted 15 ambulances waiting.”

Isabelle was made well enough to transfer to Telford children’s ward, where she was given further fluids to raise her blood pressure.

Now Mr Flavell has written to his MP, Helen Morgan and lodged a complaint with the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

He does not accept that no ambulances could be provided or that he could not be told when one would arrive.

He said: “This is appalling and people’s lives are at risk.

“I know WMAS are blaming handover times but they are aware this is an ongoing problem.

“They should be resourcing their service accordingly, not simply palming the blame off on others. They are failing in their duty.”

A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed that they had received a call at 8.27pm and that it was cancelled a few minutes later.

The spokesman said all of the NHS and social care are working to prevent ambulance handover delays which are the root cause of emergency vehicles being held up.

“The ambulance service relies on each part of the health and social care system working together so that our ambulances can get to patients in the community quickly,” said the WMAS spokesman.

“Sadly, the pressures we are seeing in health and social care lead to long hospital handover delays with our crews left caring for patients that need admitting to hospital rather than responding to the next call. The result is that our crews are delayed reaching patients.

“We are working incredibly hard with all of our NHS and social care partners to prevent these delays, looking at new ways to safely hand over patients quickly so that our crews can respond more rapidly and save more lives.”

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