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Two hour ambulance wait did not cause elderly patient's death
AN 88-YEAR-OLD who suffered a brain injury after falling on ice was left to wait nearly two hours in freezing conditions for an ambulance on the busiest day of the year for the service.
An inquest held in Salisbury today heard that Doreen Iris Wignall, slipped on ice in Andover Road, Ludgershall, on December 17, 2011.
She died from a large bleed on her brain two days later. Salisbury Coroners Court heard that Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) was first called at 10.36am, and again at 11.14am when no ambulance had arrived.
A second person called at 11.36am and the service changed its response code from green to red, after being told Mrs Wignall was slipping in and out of consciousness.
A rapid response paramedic, arrived on the scene in his car at 11.55am and immediately called for an ambulance which finally arrived at 12.21pm. The court heard Mrs Wignall arrived at Salisbury District Hospital at 1.09pm after deteriorating on the way there and she underwent an emergency CT scan which showed she had an intracranial haemorrhage.
Doctors decided Mrs Wignall was not suitable for surgical intervention as it was unlikely she would survive due to her age. She was given palliative care and she died at the hospital on December 19.
An investigation has since been carried out which found that the delay in an ambulance arriving didn’t contribute to her death. Deputy assistant coroner Ian Singleton said: “The eventual outcome would have been the same even without the delay.” A GWAS investigation showed the ambulance service gave the incident the correct response codes based on the information they were given by callers at the time. The weather conditions on December 17 were described as “horrendously slippery and treacherous” and the court heard there was “unprecedented demand” for the ambulance service.
It was the service’s busiest day of the year and its third busiest day in history.
Since Mrs Wignall’s death, a number of changes have been put in place by GWAS, which is now part of South Western Ambulance Service, and an extreme weather plan has been implemented. There is now improved cross-border cooperation between ambulance services, and with voluntary services including the Red Cross, St John’s Ambulance and Wessex 4x4 Response.
Mr Singleton concluded that Mrs Wignall died as a result of an accident.
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