A former RAF serviceman died after waiting over 12 HOURS for an ambulance – after being told by emergency services they were busy because it was ‘student night’.
John Wilce, 86, was forced to wait half-a-day for paramedics to visit his home and was laid unconscious for the last four hours after he fell from his sofa during the wait.
A doctor had initially checked over John at around 4pm after attending a house call – and signalled for the emergency services to get him to hospital.
But when it got to 6pm his family rang 999 to say an ambulance had not turned up and they were told John was not a ‘life threatening’ case.
They were told that the emergency services were busy because it was ‘student night’ and it would not be until midnight when they could get a vehicle to the house.
At 1am John fell from his sofa and when his family spoke to the ambulance service again they told him to leave him on the floor.
The ambulance arrived at 5am and tests later showed John was suffering from an aneurysm and, as he was trying to force himself up out of his fall, it had ruptured and he died nine hours later.
John’s heartbroken family say the delayed response by the North East Ambulance Service [NEAS] played “a major part” in his death.
And his grieving son Alan Wilce, 57, says the family plan to sue the ambulance service for the agonising delay.
He said: “It’s just absolutely disgusting and disgraceful. We’re going to sue [the NEAS] – and it’s not because of the money but the principle.
“To be truly honest, we just don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
Adding: “How can it take over 11 hours to take an 86-year-old man to hospital?”
John was seen by a doctor at his home in Blyth, Tyne and Wear, at around 4pm on October 20.
A request was made for an ambulance to take him to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital by 6pm – but no ambulance showed.
John suffered a fall at 1am and, after ringing the ambulance’s call centre, his son Alan said they were told to leave him lying on the floor.
An ambulance finally arrived just before 5am, but Mr Wilce died in hospital at 2pm on October 21, with doctors saying he had suffered a ruptured aneurysm.
“We rang up at 8pm asking where the ambulance was and they said they had more important people to deal with and he wasn’t life-threatening.
“We rang again at 11pm and were told the same – then my father then suffered a fall at 1am.
“We rang the ambulance service again after the fall and were told to leave him where he was.
“He was lying there unconscious and it was another three hours before the ambulance arrived and took him to hospital.
”If he had been taken to hospital earlier he might still be alive – we have put in a formal complaint.”
Alan, who said in one call to NEAS they were told they were busy as ‘it was student night’, has lodged a formal complaint with the NEAS.
The organisation say that an investigation is currently on-going.
A North East Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “This is a very sad case and we would like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Wilce’s family.
“We have opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the delay to Mr Wilce, which will include whether there were any missed opportunities to reach him sooner.
“We have received a formal complaint from Mr Wilce’s family and will keep them informed throughout the investigation process.”