UK Ambulance Delay

In the UK, it may be possible to claim compensation for an ambulance delay if you or a loved one have suffered a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to the avoidable late arrival of an ambulance. There are various reasons why an ambulance can be delayed, but when they are due to the wrong priority being given to a callout or a miscommunication by Ambulance Services, the delay is considered avoidable.

It is also possible to make a compensation claim for an ambulance delay if the ambulance is late in delivering you to a hospital – or takes you to the wrong hospital – and you suffer an avoidable injury or deterioration of an existing condition. This may be due to paramedics failing to realise the severity of your symptoms or because your symptoms have been misdiagnosed.

Whatever the reason for your late arrival at hospital, if you believe that you received a substandard level of care and suffered an injury as a result, you should speak with a medical negligence solicitor at the first practical opportunity. A solicitor will be able to access Ambulance Service records to determine whether an ambulance delay was avoidable “at the time and in the circumstances” and – if so – make a claim for ambulance delay compensation on your behalf.

Widower Awarded Compensation for the Failure to Dispatch an Ambulance

A widower has been awarded an undisclosed settlement of compensation for the failure to dispatch an ambulance when his wife was complaining of chest pains.

On 28th December 2011, Ann Kinsey (68) returned to her home in Wolverhampton from her job at the local Waitrose supermarket complaining of chest pains. Ann´s husband, Brian, called NHS Direct (now replaced with the 111 non-emergency service) and received a call back from an out-of-hours GP. The GP advised Brian that Ann seemed to be suffering from either acid reflux or gastroenteritis.

The GP also told Brian to get Ann some antacids and pain relief tablets; but, when Brian returned from the pharmacy, he found Ann lying unresponsive on the floor. Brian immediately called 999 and, when paramedics arrived, they worked to resuscitate Ann for an hour before taking her to New Cross Hospital. At the hospital, an emergency team try to resuscitate Ann for a further thirty minutes, but without success.

Brian sought legal advice and claimed compensation for the failure to dispatch an ambulance when he first contacted NHS Direct. The NHS Direct Trust acknowledged that there had been a breach of duty in respect of the failure of the out-of-hours GP to provide the correct diagnosis and advice, but denied that dispatching an ambulance at the time and in the circumstances would have prevented Ann´s death.

On Brian´s behalf, medical negligence solicitors pursued his case, and now Brian has received an undisclosed settlement of compensation for the failure to dispatch an ambulance. Speaking to his local paper, Brian said:

“If an ambulance had been dispatched that night, it may not have stopped her going into cardiac arrest, but at least she would have been in the best possible hands and at least stood a chance of living. Nothing can bring Ann back, but it was very important to me that NHS Direct acknowledged its mistakes so that no one else would suffer as she did”.

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Widow Makes Claim for a Wrongful Death due to an Ambulance Delay

The widow of a man who died from meningitis after waiting six hours for her husband to be taken to hospital is making a claim for a wrongful death due to an ambulance delay.

On 5th January this year, Lisa Armitage called the NHS 111 service worried about the condition of her husband Mthuthuzeli Mpongwana (37), who was complaining of a headache, fever and difficulty focusing in bright lights.

The 111 clinician recognised that Mthuthuzeli may be displaying the symptoms of meningitis and summoned an ambulance. However, the rapid response unit took three hours to arrive, during which time Mthuthuzeli became confused and delirious, and his skin turned grey.

The paramedic failed to recognise the symptoms of meningitis and downgraded the ambulance response to the lowest priority – meaning that an ambulance to take Mthuthuzeli from the couple´s home in Bedminster to the Bristol Royal Infirmary failed to arrive for another three hours.

When Mthuthuzeli was eventually admitted to hospital, his eyes were bulging and he had lost control of his limbs. He was taken straight to the resuscitation room, where he suffered a stroke and his brain began to swell. Lisa was told there was nothing more that could be done to save her husband, and Mthuthuzeli died when he was taken off life support on January 7th.

The inquest into Mthuthuzeli´s death found that he had died from natural causes “contributed to by a failure to take appropriate action”. The coroner said that a priority one back up ambulance should have been summoned when the rapid response unit had first arrived at the family home, and that benzo penicillin should have been administered. According to the coroner, the inappropriate level of care “resulted in a missed opportunity to render medical treatment”.

Following the inquest and a the results of a Serious Incident Report, in which failings were identified in the standard of care provided by the South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, Lisa contacted solicitors and made a claim for a wrongful death due to an ambulance delay. It is not yet known whether the NHS Trust will accept liability without further legal action.

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Woman Awarded Compensation for being Taken to the Wrong Hospital

A woman who was taken to a hospital rather than a specialist centre after suffering a stroke has been awarded compensation for being taken to the wrong hospital.

Lynne Horner (69) from Bolton in Greater Manchester had been retired for just a year when she suffered a serious stroke in July 2010. Her husband – David (71) – was quick to acknowledge the symptoms and immediately called the emergency services.

A rapid response paramedic arrived within ten minutes and confirmed that Lynne had suffered a stroke; but when an ambulance arrived three minutes later, the ambulance paramedic assessed that Lynne was recovering and, rather than take her to the specialist stroke centre at the Salford Royal Hospital, drove Lynne and David to the Royal Bolton Hospital instead.

Lynne remained at the Royal Bolton Hospital for more than two and a half hours before it was confirmed that she had suffered a right-sided stroke and she was transferred to the Salford Royal Hospital. However, by the time Lynne received thrombolysis treatment to reduce the blood clots, it was more than four hours after her stroke and the treatment was ineffective.

As a result of being taken to the wrong hospital, Lynne now has a permanent brain injury. She can no longer drive and is reliant on a wheelchair to move around. Lynne needs help from her husband to complete day-to-day chores and can no longer take foreign holidays as the couple had planned to do after her retirement.

After seeking legal advice, Lynne claimed compensation for being taken to the wrong hospital against the North West Ambulance Service. She claimed in her legal action that, had she been taken to the correct hospital, thrombolysis treatment would have been administered within ten minutes and she would have not have suffered a permanent neurological injury.

The North West Ambulance Service acknowledged its liability and earlier this month a court hearing was held for the assessment of damages. Lynne was awarded just over one million pounds compensation for being taken to the wrong hospital – money that will be used to cover the cost of specialist care and equipment, and to buy a new home adapted for wheelchair use.

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Family Want Investigation into Heart Attack Death due to an Ambulance Delay

A family from Staffordshire have instructed medical negligence solicitors to investigate the heart attack death due to an ambulance delay of a 59-year-old man.

On Saturday 19th April 2014, Kathryn Corbin called the emergency services to request an ambulance for her husband, Jeff, who was suffering from chest pain and a shortness of breath. When paramedics arrived, Jeff was diagnosed as having suffered a panic attack and – advised that there was a six hour wait at the local A&E department – he declined to be taken to hospital as a non-emergency case.

The paramedics left, advising Jeff to see his GP after the weekend, but the following day Kathryn again summoned an ambulance as Jeff was gasping for breath and in intense pain. The ambulance took seventy-five minutes to arrive – during which time Jeff had suffered a fatal heart attack, and he was declared dead on arrival at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.

An expert cardiologist who gave evidence at the inquest into Jeff´s death said that had Jeff been taken to hospital and received treatment when an ambulance was first called on the Saturday morning, there was a 95% chance that his condition would have been diagnosed and treated. The cardiologist added that had the ambulance arrived within 30 minutes when it was called on the Sunday, there was a 50% chance that Jeff would have survived.

Coroner Ian Smith recorded a verdict of death by natural causes; but he also commented that the paramedics who attended Jeff on the Saturday morning made the wrong decision by not taking him to hospital as an emergency – following which, Jeff´s family sought legal advice and instructed medical negligence solicitors to investigate the heart attack death due to an ambulance delay.

Commenting after the inquest, Kathryn – from Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire – said: “My children and I have been left completely devastated after losing Jeff – last year we should have celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. He was the heart of our family, a loving dad and husband and losing him has left an irreparable hole in our lives”.

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Settlement of Compensation for Ambulance Delay Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for an ambulance delay that resulted in a former genetic scientist sustaining brain damage has been approved at the High Court.

In October 2007, Caren Paterson collapsed in the bedroom of her Islington flat in North London and an ambulance was called by her boyfriend. Despite being informed that Caren was unconscious, breathing abnormally and that her lips had turned blue, the ambulance that was dispatched to her flat waited for 100 minutes along the road, as Caren´s address had been flagged as being in an area of high risk and paramedics were told to wait for police to arrive.

Five minutes before police arrived to escort paramedics into Caren´s flat, she went into cardiac arrest and sustained permanent brain damage which has now left her with chronic amnesia, confusion and disorientation. Caren requires around-the-clock care and will never be able to return to her job as a genetic scientist at Kings College.

Due to Caren being unable to represent herself, an injury claim for compensation for the ambulance delay was made on her behalf by her mother – Eleanor Paterson from Warkworth in Northumberland – who claimed in her action against the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust that, if it had not been for their negligence in mistakenly flagging Caren´s flat as high risk, Caren would not have sustained permanent brain damage.

The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust admitted liability for Caren´s brain injury, and a package of compensation for the ambulance delay was negotiated which consists of a £1.4 million lump sum payment to be paid immediately and index-linked payments every year thereafter. The settlement is worth approximately £5 million pounds and should allow Caren to move from her specialist care unit into her own home, where she will be cared for by trained brain injury nurses.

At the High Court, Judge Richard Parkes and Caren´s mother heard an apology read out in court by the barrister representing the London Ambulance NHS Trust, after which Judge Parkes approved the settlement of compensation – paying tribute to the care that Eleanor Paterson had provided for her daughter since the tragic circumstances of her injury six years ago.

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Courts Awards Woman Compensation for London Ambulance Delay

A woman, who was diagnosed with PTSD after waiting fifty minutes for emergency services to attend to her dislocated knee, has been awarded £522,379 in compensation for a London ambulance delay.

Ceri Leigh (50) from Wimbledon in Surrey dislocated her right kneecap in November 2008 while trying to get off a bus. She was unable to move for 50 minutes while she waited in pain for a London Ambulance to arrive and take her to hospital.

Due to the extended delay and the physical trauma Ceri suffered, her knee did not fully recover for eighteen months – during which time she was housebound and suffered flashbacks, nightmares and dissociative seizures.

Ceri was medically retired from her position as Exhibitions Manager at the Natural History Museum and returned to live in South Wales due to financial pressures. There, Ceri was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and she sought legal advice to claim compensation for the London ambulance delay – the trigger which her psychiatrist considered to be the cause of her condition.

The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust acknowledged that there had been an avoidable seventeen minute delay in dispatching an ambulance to attend to Ceri, but disputed the link to her psychiatric issues and the amount of compensation for a London ambulance delay that was being claimed.

The NHS Trust also argued that Ceri had been suffering family and financial problems which could have both triggered her PTSD but, at the High Court in London, Mr Justice Globe ruled that he was satisfied Ceri´s seizures were part of the PTSD she had been diagnosed with and were attributable to the trauma she experienced while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

The judge awarded Ceri £522,379 in compensation for a London ambulance delay, saying that every additional minute that the emergency services were delayed had added to Ceri´s trauma until she was left in “utter despair”.

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40,000 Pounds Compensation for Fatal Emergency Misdiagnosis

The family of a Northumberland woman, who died after being misdiagnosed by an ambulance paramedic, has been awarded 40,000 pounds in medical negligence compensation.

Denise Hopper (40) from Alnmouth, Northumberland, was taken to hospital after being involved in a car crash in December 2007, in which she broke several vertebrae and suffered fractured ribs. The paramedic who treated her at the scene also diagnosed that she was suffering from dehydration, when in fact she had deep vein thrombosis. Denise consequently received the wrong treatment on her arrival at the hospital, and two weeks later suffered a heart attack and died.

Following an enquiry into her death, Denise’s two children sought legal advice and filed an action against the North East Ambulance Service for failing to demonstrate adequate clinical skills. The North East Ambulance Service admitted there had been a failure to make an accurate diagnosis, but did not admit liability for Denise’s death. Nonetheless, a compensation payment of 40,000 pounds for Denise’s children was agreed between legal representatives of the two sides.

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