"Delays over Boxing Day when my son collapsed at home "

About: Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford) / Accident and emergency South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust / Emergency ambulance

(as a carer),

My son has a serious inherited disorder and he also has learning difficulties and autistic spectrum disorder, as well as a serious heart condition. On Boxing Day he stood up after watching television and just collapsed in the living room. It was terrible. From my work I knew first aid and resuscitation and that kicked in. I just knew what I had to do and went on automatic. I felt distanced from him, doing the stuff I needed to do but not really there. I resuscitated him and put him in the recovery position. Then he vomited. He died twice in my arms, just faded out. Each time we brought him round. We’d rung 999 straight away of course but it took them 20 minutes to get there.

The paramedics were wonderful when they arrived – took over from me and looked after him. It was wonderful to have them there and in charge of things. Then they took him to Wonford Hospital. We arrived there at 01.30 in the morning. Of course the place was full of drunks because it was Boxing Day night. I felt that the staff wouldn’t listen to me about what had happened.

It took nearly 3 hours for him to see a doctor. I was apoplectic. I didn’t know what had happened to him or whether it would happen again. We didn’t get him onto a ward until 05.30. It turned out that he probably had developed a low calcium level in his blood. We’d read all about his condition of course but we didn’t know that it could also give him a low calcium and so cause seizures till this happened.

I can’t fault the ambulance men or the doctors. But it all took so long. It was awful. I feel really bad about all those drunk people who I think were the real reason it took so long for the ambulance and the doctors he needed to get to him.

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