Ambulance took 11 hours to respond to Sunderland call

Accident and Emergency department, Sunderland Royal Hospital'A&E SRH
Accident and Emergency department, Sunderland Royal Hospital'A&E SRH
Have your say

AN ambulance took more than 11 hours to respond to a 999 call in Sunderland that should have taken 60 minutes.

The call was classed as a ‘green3’ emergency, meaning patients should be seen within an hour, according to figures in a Freedom of Information request.

It was one of 10 separate occasions between January and November 2012 where the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) failed to meet its target.

Guidelines say paramedics should arrive within 30 minutes to ‘green3’ emergency calls, where blue lights and sirens are used.

However, bosses at the ambulance service say they are the highest performing service in the country, reaching just under 80 per cent of the most seriously ill or injured patients within eight minutes.

The son of a Sunderland great-grandmother who died in 2012 after being admitted to hospital following a four-and-a-half-hour wait for an ambulance to her home, hit out at the figures.

Although an inquest ruled that the delay in the NEAS taking Florence Taylor, 81, to hospital had no impact on the tragic outcome, coroner Derek Winter said he would be writing to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to bring the case to his attention.

Florence’s son Raymond, 59, of Ryhope, said: “I just don’t think things are going to change until the Government steps in and does something about it.

“You hear about people having to wait longer for ambulances all the time.”

The statistics show that on January 1 last year, a patient in the Bishop Auckland area of County Durham had to wait three hours 13 minutes despite having potentially life-threatening injuries.

The ambulance service said the call was originally non-life threatening.

Raymond added: “It’s quite horrific that someone has had to wait three hours and the waiting time should have been eight minutes, but the figures really don’t surprise me.”

A NEAS spokeswoman said: “All English ambulance services are funded to reach 75 per cent of the most serious patients within eight minutes.

“Despite the best efforts of our crews, we cannot reach 100 per cent of patients within that target time. Even with unlimited funds, this would be impossible.”

The Freedom of Information request shows that one patient in Shildon, County Durham, waited one hour 36 minutes despite both being placed on ‘red2, where ambulances should come within eight minutes.