"urgent review needs to be made"

About: Dorset County Hospital / Accident and emergency South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust / Emergency ambulance

(as a parent/guardian),

In the last 2 years myself and wife have had 3 seperate experiences of the Dorset Ambulance Service. Unfortunately none of these have been an acceptable level of service and all have involved ambulances failing to respond to an emergency call.

In 2014 and 2016 my Daughter broke her left arm, the first time snapping both her radius and ulna which and came close to protruding through the skin and second was an accident where she hyperextended her elbow joint and not just broke the head of the bone but dislocated it as well. Both situations needed surgery and both times we were told on the telephone by the call centre she needed to get to hospital urgently because of the risk of lack of blood flow and damage to the artery. Neither of these emergency calls resulted in the arrival of an ambulance and both occasions it was left to a friend and family member to drive her there.

More recently, one evening our 3 week old baby started to choke, he could not catch his breath and was in a terrible state of distress. We could not understand why he was choking, and could not physically do anything to help him. At one point thought he would pass out. We called 999 and the initial operator tried to patch us through to the ambulance service however it wasn't for several minutes and multiple different numbers, that our call was answered.

When the initial questions had been answered we were assured that an ambulance was on its way. We were told not to give the baby anything to drink. We waited 45 minutes or so with the front door open but nobody turned up, his choking calmed down but started again at 11pm ish, my wife phoned again and the operator tried to put through to the on call paramedic but to no avail, and had to wait for a call back. We were then told that we would need to take him to see a doctor and to wait for a call from them so we knew where to go. That call came at 3: 30am, after a number of further episodes of choking and distress.

From beginning to end the whole experience was atrocious, from "no answer" on the emergency line, to being told an ambulance was on its way, to not having an on call paramedic to talk to and the 3. 5-4 hour wait for a doctor to call us back. I am sickened that the answers to questions given from a distressed parent would determine that a choking baby was not important enough to send a paramedic to help. I am also disgusted that you would tell us an ambulance was on its way when clearly it wasn't. In my day, call me old fashioned but, "on its way" meant open your front door and look for it. If we were told there wasn't anyone available to answer the call, we would have driven him there ourselves rather then being left in limbo.

There is something very wrong with this NHS ambulance service and if it hasn't already then I believe this type of incompetency will result in the loss of lives, luckily in our case it wasn't the loss of life our 3 week old baby. An urgent review needs to be made of how many ambulances or quick response vehicles are on duty.

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

Good Morning PMC

Thank you for sharing your story.

The details published here have been anonymized, so I am afraid I am unable to comment directly on this event. However we would welcome the opportunity to look into the care afforded to your child.

May I ask you to contact our Patient Experience Team on either 01392 261 585 or patientexperience@swast.nhs.uk at your convenience and one of the team will be very happy to help you further.

Thank you, again, for taking the time offer our service feedback.

Kind Regards


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