Scandalous 23-hour wait for ambulance before man dies

Whatever the circumstances were, this is absolutely scandalous. An 80-year-old man, who fell at home and hit his head, waited 23 hours for an ambulance to arrive. Regrettably, he died five days later.

Ambulance bosses are looking into reasons behind the unacceptable delay but, whatever they discover, there can be no excuse.


John Williams in the ambulance outside Swansea’s Morriston Hospital (Pic: His family, via BBC News).

The man was then forced to wait more than seven hours, in the ambulance outside the hospital, before being admitted.

John Williams fell at home in Gowerton, Swansea, a city in the UK, on Tuesday April 2. But the ambulance did not arrive until Wednesday. Unfortunately, he died on Sunday morning.

I have no idea what led to the fall, but this can only be a real concern for anyone for whom falls are always a risk. People like me. I have mobility and balance problems caused by multiple sclerosis, falls are a persistent danger.

Mr Williams’s son, Darren, told BBC News that the ambulance was called shortly after 8.30am on Tuesday, and the family had been expecting a response “within 40 minutes to an hour”.

However, despite ringing 999 (UK equivalent of 911 in the US) three further times on Tuesday, the ambulance did not arrive until 7.30am on Wednesday and took Mr Williams to Morriston Hospital, Swansea.

Contributed to father’s passing

His son said they were advised not to move his father while waiting for an ambulance and, because of both delays, he did not have any medication for 36 hours. This included some for his heart, and after his father died, Darren Williams said he was told his father’s heart “gave up”.

“I can’t help thinking that all this has contributed to my father’s passing,” he said.

He added that the ambulance crew, when they arrived, were “brilliant” and “just trying to do their job in a very difficult situation”.

A spokeswoman for Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board said Mr Williams’s condition began to deteriorate after he was admitted to hospital.

Claire Bevan, director of quality, safety and patient experience for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We would like to extend our sincere condolences to Mr Williams’s family at this very sad and difficult time.

“We want to ensure a full investigation is carried out into the wait that Mr Williams experienced and we will be communicating with Mr Williams’s family.”

I am pleased that the ambulance service is investigating. The fact that this is already in the public domain can only be good. With the eyes of the world media watching, there should be no opportunity to brush this under the carpet.

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* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

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