"Told to call back by operator and poor ambulance response time"

About: South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust / Emergency ambulance

(as a relative),

During the early hours of Boxing day morning (Thursday 26th December 2013), my 74 year old mother was taken ill with severe chest pains. Her partner phoned the ambulance service, and was told to leave it for 20 minutes and call back if no improvement.

My mother stopped breathing and her partner called the service once more (some few minutes after the initial call). This time he was taken seriously and an ambulance arrived about 15 minutes later, yet despite the efforts of the paramedics, my mother passed away.

I would like two questions answered please:

1. Is it SW Ambulance policy to tell people who call for emergency assistance, that they should wait for a worsening of symptoms and only then call back? Can I have the name and contact details of the person who agreed to this policy please? I wish to speak with them personally to try to understand the reasoning behind this.

2. Why did it take 15 minutes for an ambulance to eventually arrive at my mother's bungalow? Was there an abnormally high call rate? were you understaffed?

I would really appreciate some honest answers here. And I really do not want to be fobbed off with a 'lessons learned' narrative.

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Response from Laura Martin, Patient Engagement Administrator, Governance, South Western Ambulance Service

picture of Laura Martin


I am sorry to hear of the sad loss of your mother. Thank you for taking the time to provide us with feedback at what must be a very difficult time for you and your family.

We welcome the opportunity to look into the events surrounding the ambulance attendance to your mother. Details of your concerns have been received by our Patient Experience team who have started to investigate this incident.

We have tried to contact you on the telephone number you provided but have been unsuccessful. Please could you call the Patient Experience team on 01392 261 585 from 09:00 on Thursday 2nd January 2014 and a member of the team will be happy to help you.

Kind regards


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