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Inquiry into deaths after Northern Ireland ambulance delays


The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) is investigating whether a delayed response contributed to the deaths of eight people in recent weeks.

All eight deaths occurred between 12 December and the start of January.

The NIAS is treating four of the deaths as serious adverse incidents, which is defined as an incident that led to unintended or unexpected harm.

The remaining four deaths are being investigated to see whether they meet that criteria.

The patients' identities have not been disclosed, but it is understood one of the eight people was a man who waited more than nine hours for an ambulance in mid-December.

The man's condition deteriorated and he died before paramedics arrived.

The delays are a cause of "great concern," but there is "no end in sight to the pressures we are facing," according to the ambulance service's medical director Nigel Ruddell.

He said the ambulance service conducts an internal review whenever "there is a delayed response to the call and a poor outcome from the call" to see whether delays contributed to a death.

"That process involves liaising with the family and being open and clear with them about what happened on the day - whether it was because of pressures and demand on the day or whether there was something that, potentially, we could have done better."

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Source: BBC News, 4 January 2022

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