‘Dozens’ have complained about ambulance service says Sunderland MP

Raymond Henry Davidson, who died after an eight-hour wait for an ambulance to get to his Washington home in June 2017.
Raymond Henry Davidson, who died after an eight-hour wait for an ambulance to get to his Washington home in June 2017.

A Wearside MP says dozens of people have complained to her about ambulance service delays after the Echo reported how a pensioner died following an eight-hour wait for paramedics.

Raymond Henry Davidson, 69, died after taking ill at his house in Washington on June 9 last year while suffering from volvulus, which is when a loop of intestine twists around itself, causing bowel obstruction.

MP Sharon Hodgson.

MP Sharon Hodgson.

An inquest heard his brother Peter called the NHS 111 service shortly after 3.15pm and after other calls back between clinicians to him, at 5.39pm an urgent call was made to dispatch an ambulance to get to Raymond’s house in Barmston Way and take him to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Gateshead, for treatment, which should have got to him by 7.39pm.

However, due to high demand upon the services of the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) on the day however, no ambulance arrived by that time.

With Raymond’s condition worsening, Peter called 999 and at 1.07am the following morning the call was upgraded so that an ambulance should have arrived by 1.37am.

Again, no ambulance appeared and Peter called again at 2.02am saying that Raymond had stopped breathing.

A North East Ambulance Service ambulance.

A North East Ambulance Service ambulance.

A rapid response vehicle arrived at the address at 2.10am but by then it was too late and Raymond was pronounced dead just before 2.30am.

Sunderland coroner Derek Winter concluded the inquest by ruling said that Raymond died of natural causes with a rider of neglect, while the NEAS issued an apology to his family.

Mr Winter added that he would be writing to health secretary Jeremy Hunt after what he deemed as a “gross failure” to get an ambulance to Raymond.

There has been significant pressure on the North East Ambulance Service in the past few years, with the recent Christmas and New Year period seeing huge levels of demand hit the service, with more than 40,000 NHS111 and more than 16,000 999 calls between December 23 and January 1.

The figures showed a sharp rise from the same period in the previous year, which saw around 28,000 NHS111 calls and 15,000 999 calls.

A report released in January showed that NEAS reached just 68% of the most serious cases in the required eight minutes, against a national target of 75%, in the past financial year.

Now, MP Sharon Hodgson, who Raymond’s family have written to highlighting their concerns over the 111 system, says that she has been contacted by dozens of people in her constituency about worries over the availability of ambulances.

Mrs Hodgson, who represents Washington and Sunderland, said: “Firstly, I pass on my deepest condolences to the family of Mr Davidson.

“This case is not an isolated one and far too many of my constituents have contacted me about the poor performance of the North East Ambulance Service over the years.

“Fortunately, they rarely end in tragedy as sadly happened in this case.

“That is why I have raised this issue numerous times with the North East Ambulance Service directly and in Parliament when I have the opportunity to do so.

“In 2016, I led a Westminster Hall Debate on the performance of North East Ambulance Service, summoned the chief executive in front of the Northern Group of Labour MPs and my Labour Party colleagues also regularly raise this in Health Questions.

“If there is anything the family would like me to do to escalate this further, then I urge them to please get in touch with me directly and I will do all that I can.”

The Department of Health were unable to comment when contacted by the Echo.