Shropshire Star

Pensioner died after waiting seven hours for ambulance - with heart attack call wrongly categorised

A 73-year-old man who had suffered a heart attack waited more than seven hours for an ambulance – with a two-hour delay because a third frantic 999 call had not been categorised as a “red” life-threatening emergency.

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The coroner was told the call had been wrongly classified

A coroner at Ruthin, North Wales, recorded a conclusion that David Philip Roberts, known as Phil, of Llangollen, who had worked as a tool setter and was described by family as “fiercely independent”, had died in June last year from natural causes.

The overall ambulance response time was seven-and-a-half hours.

But the coroner deferred making a prevention of future deaths report because she was already awaiting responses about ambulance delays following other recent inquests.

Mr Roberts’s niece Mandy Lawrence-Jones said on June 21 the pensioner had experienced an acute loss of balance while walking.

He had been taken by car to a GP’s surgery but saw a nurse rather than a doctor.

Coroner Kate Robertson said she would write to the surgery expressing “some concern” that his pulse rate was not taken that day or an ECG done.

The pensioner’s niece said: “I strongly feel his symptoms merited an ECG at the very least. I feel this was a lost opportunity.”

On June 23 he was found collapsed at home and a 999 call was made but the ambulance service said help would not arrive for about 90 minutes.

Mr Roberts was made comfortable on the floor and a second 999 call made but the wait had increased to up to five hours and family were asked not to phone again, the inquest heard.

Mr Roberts’s sister dialled 999 again later “but felt she wasn’t being listened to,” and had been warned an ambulance would take another three to five hours.

Mrs Lawrence-Jones said family had “felt helpless” as he deteriorated that day.

Welsh ambulance service manager Gill Pleming said two calls had been correctly coded as “amber”. But the third should have been categorised as a “red” call.

The service had been facing “significant pressures” and an ambulance had been sent from Llanrwst, 35 miles from Llangollen.

Mr Roberts was then taken to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd at Bodelwyddan for coronary treatment, but he died on June 27, 2022.

Cardiology consultant Dr Eduardas Subkovas said: "We don’t really know at what time he developed the heart attack.”

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