OAP who waited eight hours for ambulance dies

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A 95-year-old Spalding man who waited more than eight hours for an ambulance after a heart attack has died.

Eric Harker passed away in Peterborough Hospital during Monday night.

His grandson, Paul Sellars, said the family did not know at this time whether the wait had contributed to his death.

He said: “Had the ambulance arrived sooner the outcome could have been different, but at the moment we just don’t know. We are just thankful that he died peacefully.”

Mr Harker had been suffering shortness of breath when his family called a doctor to his home in Oak Court last Wednesday.

After seeing Mr Harker, the doctor called the ambulance around 1pm. Mr Sellars said: “We expected the ambulance to arrive fairly quickly with my grandfather being 95 and the doctor making the call.

“When it didn’t arrive members of the family kept calling – they must have made three or four calls before I arrived at teatime.

“I called and was probably a bit more forceful. The callout was changed to an emergency 999, but it still took until 9.30pm for the ambulance to arrive.”

When Mr Harker was admitted to Peterborough Hospital, he was diagnosed as having had a mild heart attack.

Mr Sellars said: “He had been seen at the doctor’s surgery before the weekend and we were told to keep an eye on him and call them if he got any worse. When we called the doctor out my grandfather couldn’t even walk to the toilet without getting out of breath.”

Mr Harker – who lived in sheltered accommodation with his 92-year-old wife Lily – farmed at Weston Hills until he was 80.

Mr Sellars said: “My grandfather liked to keep active and regularly strolled half a mile down the road to the supermarket.

“We all wanted to see him make 100 and really thought he would before this. The day before he died they (the hospital) were talking about him coming home.”

In November last year, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) was named worst out of 12 in the country for its response times and was asked to explain its poor record in Lincolnshire.

The move followed two cases in Sutton Bridge in which 999 patients waited several hours for ambulances to turn up.

EMAS has already apologised to the family of John Waring, who died after a three-hour wait for an ambulance.

The second case saw Frieda Minns (83) wait nearly six hours for an ambulance to King’s Lynn.

Phil Milligan, East Midlands Ambulance Service chief executive, said: “We received a call from the GP at 13:04 on Wednesday January 2, requesting that an ambulance be sent to Mr Harker within two hours. Mr Harker’s condition was described as not life-threatening.

“On this day, we were extremely busy responding to 905 calls reporting a life-threatening emergency in addition to the 1,486 calls from people in a less serious condition (2,391 calls received in total on January 2). Life-threatening calls include people reporting cardiac arrest, a catastrophic bleed or someone who has stopped breathing.

“The significant increase in demand has unfortunately meant some people who are reported to not have a life-threatening condition, have experienced a delay in response. The ambulance arrived at Mr Harker’s address at 21:30 and took him to hospital in Peterborough.

“I am sorry for the distress and anxiety experienced by Mr Harker and his family.

“Over the past three months we have been consulting with the public and staff on proposals to help us improve our response times and the quality of care delivered. Our Trust Board will receive final plans at a meeting on January 28. Any decisions made at this meeting will be shared with staff and the public on January 29.”