Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Claire Barre & Benjamin Roberts-Haslam

Woman 'dies after waiting eight hours' for ambulance

A woman reportedly suffered a stroke and died after waiting for eight hours on an ambulance.

A row has broken out following warnings of NHS cuts ahead of hospital service shake-up in Merseyside. Michele Martin, the organiser of Save Ormskirk and Southport Hospitals campaign group, has claimed that the changes to stroke services at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust as well as high ambulance waiting times will be fatal for some people in the area.

The measure will see some stroke services to Aintree Hospital from Southport next week which will apparently increase journey times for stroke patients, according to campaigners.

READ MORE: Gun shots fired through window of a house

In response to the serious claims lodged by campaigners, the hospital trust has said the claims are "simply not true" as a new hyper acute stroke unit at Aintree is said to be much better and safer than what is available at the moment. It said that the new comprehensive stroke care centre and the new stroke care pathway will provide better care for patients.

The row hit boiling point following the wider, nationwide healthcare shake-up which saw Clinical Commissioning Groups replaced with 42 newly formed Integrated Care Boards in July. Michele claimed that a Southport woman suffering a stroke waited eight hours for an ambulance last month, and sadly passed away.

She told Lancs Live: “A friend of mine lost her sister-in-law in Southport recently; she waited eight hours for an ambulance after she had a stroke.”

She added: “The ambulance service is just being crippled - what the people working on it must feel like must be horrendous. You do that job because you want to help people and to turn up eight hours late for somebody who’s had a stroke just feels dreadful.

“This is about trying to save people’s lives in Southport because this plan is a death sentence for some. As we know from what’s happened to all those organisations, if you put profits before the service, people will suffer.”

Claiming the move would increase the journey time to hospital for stroke patients by ten minutes, campaigners also said it worsened demand for "an already overstretched ambulance service" and switched patients to an A&E department with worse waiting times at Aintree. Southport MP Damien Moore, in a response to campaigners, said earlier this month he’d met with the North West Ambulance Service to discuss the concerns and had also written to Southport Hospital’s Managing Director back in June.

He added, in the letter, sent at the start of the month: “I received a great range of assurances that following the Hospital’s public consultation and records, there was indisputable evidence that these changes were in the best interests of my constituents and the hospital’s patients.”

A spokesperson for Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust said the move was part of a major plan to bring together the hyper acute stroke care currently based at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Aintree University Hospital and Southport Hospital to a "comprehensive stroke centre for North Mersey". It was hoped the new centre, based at the same site as The Walton Centre would significantly increase the number of local patients able to receive specialist ‘thrombectomy’ stroke treatment within the required time.

Dr Paddy McDonald, Stroke Consultant, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust said: “This service was developed by people who care for stroke patients and really understand what a difference timely diagnosis and treatment can make.

Campaigners outside Southport & Formby Hospital with Formby MP Bill Esterson (Michele Martin)

“Some journeys to hospital will take longer but this is in return for faster, specialised and joined-up care once you arrive with a proven better outcome for each patient’s future health. It’s an approach we know has already been shown to improve care for stroke patients in many other parts of the country. It’s absolutely right that everyone in my local community benefits from that very best care too.”

A spokesperson for Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said there had been more investment, not less, in stroke services under the new system, and pointed out how the 'full capacity protocol' issued at the current Royal Liverpool University Hospital yesterday was a pre-emptive action so staff could prevent the hospital becoming overwhelmed

They said: "What happened is we issued a full capacity protocol alert at the Royal – this is used nationally and is designed to support patient flow for emergency and urgent care teams caring for patients awaiting treatment. It is a proactive measure implemented when we can see pressure building, rather than an emergency response."

A North West Ambulance Service spokesperson said "While we are unable to comment on the specific incident highlighted without more detail, we offer the family affected our deepest sympathies and invite them to contact our patient safety team to discuss the issue further. We continue to work hard in challenging circumstances to ensure everyone who needs an ambulance gets one, and we are available 24/7 for people who need us and are providing a swift response for people in life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, some other patients may have to wait longer than we would like.

“As well as increasing the numbers of frontline ambulance crews, over the last 18 months, we have also introduced more clinical staff in our emergency call centres to oversee all those waiting and maintain patient safety. They will call patients back to offer medical advice or appropriate pathways to receive medical care and can crucially upgrade the response required if needed. We’re also working closely with NHS colleagues to reduce hospital handover delays.

"We urge the public to reserve the 999 service for emergencies only and consider if their GP, pharmacist or could provide them with the medical help they need."


Army bomb disposal team called after 'suspicious items' found on train tracks

'Gentle' mum and son found dead in Sefton Park flat are 'both at peace now'

Neighbours 'on edge' after mum's loud nights of sexual activity

DWP Universal Credit will give four groups of claimants cash boost from this week

Man fighting for life after three car crash on Queens Drive

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.