Bury St Edmunds: Boy, 16, with breathing difficulties waited 30-minutes for ambulance

THE level of 999 cover in parts of Suffolk has been criticised after a teenager with breathing difficulties had to bump himself down stairs to reach an ambulance car.

The 16-year-old collapsed at a house in Summers Road, Bury St Edmunds, while visiting a friend and waited about half an hour for a paramedic to reach the address.

Sharn Oman, 35, who dialled 999, said she was unhappy that the boy had to ease himself down stairs to the rapid response vehicle rather than wait for an ambulance.

Bosses at East of England Ambulance Service Trust said the call had been dealt with in accordance with national guidelines and within time targets for incidents of its kind.

The criticism comes just over a week after public sector union Unison said a change in staff shift patterns would reduce the county’s 999 cover – a claim that has also been refuted by the trust.


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Mother-of-three Ms Oman said she dialled 999 at about 10.30pm on August 1 after the youngster, whose identity she wanted to protect, complained of feeling unwell.

She said: “I said I was going to take him home and he got up from where he was sitting and just collapsed on the floor. I phoned 999 but was told there were no ambulances available. The operator talked me through what to do and said someone would phone back to assess him.”

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She added: “But after 10 minutes he was in proper agony and his pulse was very slow. I phoned back and just said ‘I need someone to come now.’

Ms Oman said when the paramedic arrived about 11pm, he said he had driven from the Sudbury area.

She added: “The paramedic said there was no back-up, so no stretcher or ambulance and he needed my help to shuffle him down the stairs and into the car. I have never ever been let down by the emergency services before. My son had problems and in a few minutes they would always be there, but what I witnessed was disgusting.”

A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust said: “The paramedic carried out a thorough assessment on scene which found the patient was breathing normally, fully alert and sitting up with all his observations normal.

“His abdominal pain was treated with pain relief and, as he was comfortable sitting and could walk, he was offered the choice to take the three-minute journey to hospital by car, which was appropriate for a low-acuity incident like this, instead of waiting for one of the ambulances being deployed to higher priority emergency patients at the time to be free.

“The patient and everyone present was happy with this and the way the incident was handled was fully compliant with national standards and time targets for this kind of call.”

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