"Extremely poor response time and rudeness of the ambulance driver"

About: South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust / Emergency ambulance South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust / NHS 111

(as a relative),

My husband was taken ill with stomach cramps and vomiting around 2. 30 pm.

 He had cancer of the oesophagus later year, received chemotherapy, then had a major operation to remove his oesophagus followed by another 9 weeks of chemo. So as you can imagine any pain in his stomach area is of major concern to us.

We phoned 111, they told us to get in touch with the Health Centre, where we are registered. We did this and a doctor was sent out to see him. The doctor decided that he should go to hospital and ordered an ambulance to come and pick him up. This was about 5. 30 in the afternoon.

The ambulance service rang my husband around 6. 00 and told him an ambulance was on the way. At 6. 21 they rang to say that an ambulance would be with us within the hour. We are in the process of moving, so we are staying in a caravan. As the caravan could be hard to find, I started to wait at the end of the little road where the caravan is situated so the ambulance could find us. I spent the next hour going from the caravan to the end of the road, so I could check up on my husband, who was by this time steadily getting worse. He was in a great deal of pain and was sick 3 more times.

The hour passed but no ambulance turned up. By 8. 00pm, we were worried that we had been forgotten, and my husband was even worse. The service had told us to ring 999 if his condition worsened, as it had, so at 8. 00pm he rang 999. Yes they said, an ambulance had set off to pick him up, but had been diverted. Another would arrive shortly.

When my husband asked why they could not have contacted him to let him know the ambulance had been diverted he was told that was not their job or concern.

So 8. 00 and a 999, what is supposed to be the response time? 18 - 20 minutes I believe is what they say. By 9. 00, a whole hour after the first 999 call, with me outside most of this time, we rang 999 again. The call was answered fairly quickly to ask what service was required, but it took at least 4 minutes for the ambulance service to respond. The operator kept saying they were ringing the ambulance, implying there was only one ambulance available in the Dorset area.

Then my husband had to endure yet another assessment to see if he was really ill. A different operator assured us that the ambulance was on its way and would be there shortly. I went back to the end of the road, by this time it was dark and very cold.

 The ambulance arrived about 9. 40, another full 40 minutes after the second 999 call. By this time I was very stressed, cold and worried about the state my husband was in. The driver was rude and patronizing calling me 'my dear', when I pulled them up on this, they started to tell me they had been working since 7 in the morning and was most unpleasant, they made me feel I should not have called for an ambulance and I was wasting their precious time.

The other person with them was by now treating my husband, they treated him well and was kind and attentive to his needs. When they left with my husband in the ambulance neither of them said goodbye. Their attitude toward me was very unfriendly and lacking in any empathy.

I have lost all trust in your service and hope I never have to use this service again. I have always had a great respect for what your service does, but that is now destroyed.

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Response from Sara Coburn, Patient Engagement Manager, Governance, South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust

Dear Jaxy

Thank you for taking the time to provide our service with feedback. I hope your husband is feeling better.

I am very sorry that you and your husband have had this experience.

I understand that you have been in contact with our Patient Experience Team who have registered your concerns and are arranging for the events surrounding the ambulance attendance to your husband to be investigated. Once this investigation has been completed, the findings will be provided to you directly in the manner you have expressed a preference for.

Thank you, again, for taking the time to share your story.

Kind regards

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