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Ambulance response warning after woman's death

Long waiting times at hospitals in the north-west of England are putting patient's lives at risk by holding up ambulance crews, a coroner has warned.

It comes after the death of Bobilya Mulonge, who called 999 with breathing problems on 24 November 2022.

She waited 72 minutes for an ambulance - four times longer than North West Ambulance Service's (NWAS) 18-minute target for her category of emergency call - which "probably contributed to her death", coroner Lauren Costello said.

A NWAS spokesman said the service was "very sorry" an ambulance was unable to attend sooner and the service had made "significant" improvements since.

A report by Ms Costello has been sent to the health secretary and NWAS and urges the region's health authorities to take action to prevent further deaths.

She said evidence about ambulance delays revealed during the inquest had given rise to her concerns.

"In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken," she wrote.

Dale Ollier, north-west regional organiser for Unison, which represents some ambulance staff, said backlogs in moving patients out of hospitals was having a "knock-on effect" at A&E, leading to a "bottleneck crisis".

“We have patients that could be safely discharged but there isn’t anywhere to discharge them to because of the lack of capacity in social care."

Ambulances were working "flat out", he added, but delays had lead to an "unbearable demand" on crews who were sometimes "tied up for several hours" waiting at hospitals.

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Source: BBC News, 20 June 2024


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