Ambulance delays linked to 35 deaths in past five years

Thirty-five patients have died in the past five years after delays of up to six hours in an ambulance reaching them and mistakes by 999 call handlers and ambulance crew, coroners have warned.

The deaths – which include a nine-month-old baby, two other children, a student nurse, a mother-to-be and an 87-year-old woman with dementia – have exposed how NHS ambulance services, faced with sometimes chronic shortages of vehicles and staff, are struggling to cope with demand.

Coroners in England and Wales have issued official warnings called prevention of future deaths notices highlighting problems with lack of resources, an inability to respond quickly enough to 999 calls and poor care that have caused, contributed to or been involved in the 35 deaths, inquiries by the Guardian have shown.

In five of the cases the patient would or might have lived if either the ambulance had got there sooner or the attending crew had provided better treatment, coroners said.

Full story in The Guardian 23 May 2016