Stroke experts have spoken of the "life-threatening consequences" of delays, after two ambulances were cancelled for an Ipswich man suffering a stroke.

In mid-November, Gavin Matthews, 45, fell victim to increased pressure on the East of England ambulance service after he suffered a stroke and was left with no choice but to get the bus to hospital.

Kathy Blythe, associate director for the east of England at the Stroke Association, said: "Stroke is a medical emergency and every minute is critical. 

"I was incredibly shocked to hear about the huge risk put on Mr Matthews' life when both ambulances sent out to help him were cancelled."

East Anglian Daily Times: Kathy Blythe is the associate director for the east of England at the Stroke Association.Kathy Blythe is the associate director for the east of England at the Stroke Association. (Image: Kathy Blythe, Stroke Association)

Ms Blythe said that in the last month, ambulances took over 85 minutes on average to respond to category two calls like strokes, when they should take no longer than 18 minutes.

"We are very worried that this chronic crisis situation for the ambulance service could have life-threatening consequences for stroke patients," said Ms Blythe. 

"Ambulance delays have a domino effect, resulting in delayed or missed chances for treatment and can result in severe disability or worse, death."

Ms Blythe said that she's "hugely grateful" to ambulance call handlers, paramedics and stroke clinicians, but despite their best efforts, "systemic challenges are severely compromising ambulance response and hospital treatment times".

She emphasised that her advice to the public would always be to call 999 straight away if you spot the signs of a stroke in you or someone else, adding: "This will help in getting scanned and being seen by a stroke specialist as soon as possible when you arrive at hospital giving you or a loved one the best chance of survival and recovery."

East Anglian Daily Times: Helen Fairweather is the chief executive of Headway Suffolk.Helen Fairweather is the chief executive of Headway Suffolk. (Image: Charlotte Bond, Newsquest)

Chief executive of charity Headway Suffolk Helen Fairweather said: "It's very important that people get emergency medical help, so it is disappointing that this person had to wait for two ambulances and didn't get the help needed because it's time-critical."

Ms Fairweather also added that east Suffolk is the only region in the UK and one of few in the world to have a dedicated stroke ambulance with an on-board consultant and said it is "disappointing" when patients do not benefit from it.

If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues discussed in this article, please reach out to Headway Suffolk who can be contacted here.

An East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) spokesman said: "The NHS is facing extremely high demand. When demand is at its highest, we regret that we are sometimes unable to send ambulances to patients while we deal with incidents involving immediately life-threatening conditions."