Trust apologises after heart attack woman had to wait an hour for ambulance

George and Christine Bolland
George and Christine Bolland

An ambulance trust has apologised after a woman who had had a heart attack had to wait an hour for an ambulance.

George Bolland, of Priory Road, Freiston, said he phoned for an ambulance after his wife Christine suffered a heart attack.

He said he ended up calling 999 three times in total, and on the final call he was advised to bring her to Pilgrim Hospital himself – but as he was about to get her in their van in a wheelchair, the paramedic arrived.

East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust says it will be investigating the delay, and accepted its response time fell below the standard it aims to provide. Mrs Bolland, 67, was rushed to Lincoln Hospital when the ambulance finally arrived, where she was operated on straight away and had a new stent fitted. Mr Bolland, 65, said he and his wife, who has an existing heart condition, were frantic while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

“I knew she was very bad when I called the ambulance. I could see she was in agony,” he said. My wife thought she was a goner. It’s the first time I’ve heard her shout ‘I need an ambulance right now’. She normally doesn’t want to get in them.”

Mr Bolland, of Priory Road, told the Standard: “I knew she was having a heart attack. I called the ambulance and they told me there wasn’t one available, but they would send one as soon as they could.

“After half an hour, I phoned again and they still didn’t have one. My wife got worse, so I called again after an hour, and at that point was told to take her myself. We got her into a wheelchair, and were taking her out to my van when the paramedic turned up and said to take her back inside. Then the ambulance came. They rushed her straight to Lincoln Hospital, and by the time I got there the surgeon said they had already operated on her as soon as she arrived.”

Mr Bolland stressed he was more than happy with the way the ambulance team and paramedic had done their jobs, but said he thought the way the call had been handled was terrible.

“It just makes me wonder what I paid my taxes for for all these years.”

Sue Cousland, General Manager for Lincolnshire, said: “We are really sorry that we were not able to reach Mrs Bolland sooner and that our response time on this occasion fell below the standard we aim to provide.

“When we are busy, we have to prioritise patients with the most immediately life-threatening conditions.

“However, while Mrs Bolland was waiting for a face-to-face response, the nurses and paramedics in our Clinical Assessment Team in our control room did contact her to carry out a more thorough assessment over the phone.

“Following this additional information provided during this call, the clinician made the decision to escalate the emergency, and a paramedic arrived at Mrs Bolland’s house within six minutes.

“We are currently working with Mrs Bolland and her family to fully investigate the delay she experienced, and will be contacting her in the near future to discuss her experience in detail.”