The Telegraph has recently reported that Ambulance staff at the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) left 78-year-old Harold Tinsley for just over 45 minutes after neighbours had called 999 when he had fallen outside his house on the afternoon of 23rd September 2011.
Mr Tinsley had started having convulsions and only received medical attention after just over 45 minutes when a single paramedic arrived. The national targets require ambulances to be on the scene within 8 minutes of a high priority call.
For the first 19 minutes the EMAS control room was trying to locate an ambulance. However, the nearest ambulance was 24 minutes away but the vehicle was not allocated because the paramedics were outside of the resourcing window, which meant that they were on their lunch break.
EMAS explained there had been a ‘resourcing problem’ and admitted ‘it was not acceptable.’ The situation was also described by the service delivery manager for EMAS as ‘not a one off.’
The Chief Executive of EMAS has asserted their ambulance staff have to take half hour meal breaks for safety and employment rights reasons which means they are entitled to a 30 minute undisturbed break.
Unfortunately, Mr Tinsley later passed away on 27th September 2011 from pneumonia and a cerebral contusion caused by the fall. The West Lincolnshire coroner heavily criticised the EMAS but recorded an open verdict as he could not be sure the delay had contributed to Mr Tinsley’s death.
By clinical negligence specialist, Sarah Fairclough