Family hits out after dad waits three hours for ambulance after heart attack

A DAD-of-five had to wait more than three hours for an ambulance while he was having a heart attack late at night. 

Mechanic Wayne Cooke, 45, who lives in Haresfield, has suffered heart attacks on three occasions in recent years including in January 22 this year.

On previous occasions, emergency crews arrived swiftly but on the latest occasion in the early hours of Thursday, September 29 his family were left fearing the worst.

Mr Cooke rang his brother Dean Ives when he became unwell. 

“He rang me in pain so I shot down to find him having an attack,” said Dean. 

“When I got there he was doubled over in severe pain.

“We called at just after 1am then again at 22 minutes past and at 1.37am but the ambulance didn’t arrive until around 4.20am.

“Although this is the fourth time he has had a heart attack we have never experienced anything like this and I did panic.

“I was very much on edge thinking the worst could happen.

“I have never given CPR so I am not sure what would have happened if he stopped breathing.

“I was recently involved in a big car crash where I broke my sternum so I am not sure I would have been able to cope with CPR anyway.

“When the paramedics did arrive they were however very good and could only apologise for their delay.

“My brother is very thankful to them and to their support.”

After having stents fitted, Mr Cooke is now on the mend and is recovering at home.

“He has five kids aged from four to 25 and is now worried about money as he will be off for a few months while he recovers,” added Dean.

A spokesperson for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are sorry for the experience this patient endured.

“Our ambulance clinicians strive every day to give their best to patients.

“The whole health and social care system has been under sustained pressure for many months now, this means that some patients are having to wait longer for an ambulance than they would expect.

“Our performance has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, partly due to handover delays at emergency departments. “We are working with our partners to ensure our ambulance clinicians can get back out on the road as quickly as possible, to respond to other 999 calls within the community.”

The latest data in August for the average response time for ambulances in England dealing with the most urgent incidents, defined as calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, was nine minutes and eight seconds.

This is an improvement on the nine minutes and 35 seconds in July but still below the seven-minute target.

Ambulances in England also took an average of 42 minutes and 44 seconds last month to respond to emergency calls such as burns, epilepsy and strokes.

This is down from 59 minutes and seven seconds in July but is still well above the target of 18 minutes.

One of the reasons for the delayed response time is because the ambulances are left waiting outside hospitals which are full.

The number of people stuck in hospital beds who are fit to be discharged is on the rise and currently higher than last winter, NHS England figures show.

NHS data analysed by the PA news agency shows increasing numbers of people in England are well enough to leave hospital but are taking up beds due to a lack of social care, support or accommodation in the community.

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