Police investigating Princess of Wales A&E wait death

Ambulances outside Princess of Wales Hospital on 16 January Several ambulances were seen queuing outside the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend on 16 January

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Police are investigating the death of a 58-year-old man who waited four hours in an ambulance before being admitted to hospital.

The man died at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend last Thursday.

The health board said the emergency department was extremely busy and there were delays admitting patients.

The patient died after suddenly becoming very unwell, two hours after being admitted. The ambulance service is also investigating what happened.

Staff had tried to resuscitate him.

Start Quote

We expect the health board to undertake a full investigation to understand the circumstances that led to this sad outcome”

End Quote Spokesman Welsh government

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board confirmed that before being admitted, he had waited outside the hospital in an ambulance for four hours. He had been assessed by a doctor and looked after by paramedics.

'Deeply saddened'

South Wales Police said they were investigating the death on behalf of HM Coroner which they said was "usual in these matters".

The health board said an urgent review was under way to see what lessons could be learned and whether the man's death could have been avoided.

A statement from the health board said: "We are deeply saddened to report the death of a patient in the emergency department of the Princess of Wales Hospital on 16th January.

"We wish to express our sincere condolences to the patient's family.

Analysis

This brings into sharp focus the pressures we know are being faced on the very frontline of the NHS.

Figures released by BBC Wales last month show Welsh ambulances face some of the the longest waits outside A&E departments compared with anywhere else in the UK

The problem here is flow. We know that in the winter demand for emergency care goes up, but if emergency departments are full they can't safely admit those patients from ambulances.

That has a knock-on effect and those ambulances can't go out and respond to calls.

The Welsh government has said it is working to improve patient flow through hospitals.

Health boards across the country have plans in place to help them deal with these issues, but it is clear this winter is proving difficult on the frontline.

"The Princess of Wales Hospital emergency department was extremely busy at the time, and unfortunately there were delays admitting patients as a result. The patient was assessed by a doctor while in the ambulance."

The coroner has been informed.

'Great concern'

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesman said handover delays were of great concern and said it was looking into the matter.

"We will fully support our health board colleagues and the coroner with their investigations," the spokesman added.

A Welsh government spokesman said: "We are sorry to hear of this tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family at this very difficult time.

"We expect the health board to undertake a full investigation to understand the circumstances that led to this sad outcome.

"As this is now the subject of a police investigation it would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this stage."

Meanwhile on Monday, a coroner said a Flintshire man would probably have survived if an ambulance had arrived within its target time of eight minutes.

Fred Pring, 74, of Flintshire, died 42 minutes after his wife Joyce had first called 999, an inquest in Ruthin heard.

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