Trust probes Burnley and Wigan ambulance delay deaths

Jack Skelly Image copyright Family photo

Two men died while waiting to be seen by paramedics because ambulances were stuck at hospitals, service bosses have said.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has received a complaint from the family of Jack Skelly, 71, from Burnley, who died after waiting 55 minutes for a crew.

In a separate incident, Richard Hansbury, 65, bled to death in Wigan after a 150-minute delay.

NWAS said patient handovers are causing "significant delays".

The trust said it is facing its most difficult operating environment on record, with a 7% increase in 999 calls this year.

Nurse Jo Needham told the BBC she could not be certain her uncle (Mr Skelly) would have survived but said he "would've had a better chance if the ambulance had arrived earlier".

He had complained about feeling unwell and collapsed in the bathroom on 19 December.

Image caption Jo Needham has made a formal complaint to NWAS

She arrived 15 minutes after the first of four phone calls made by the family for an ambulance and found him "semi-conscious and able to mumble answers to questions".

In a subsequent call she told the call handler that she was a nurse, adding: "I was asked if I would take clinical responsibility for him but I said 'when is the ambulance arriving?'

"By the time the ambulance arrived I was trying to resuscitate him," she added.

"I think he would have had more chance of surviving if he had collapsed in a public place with a defibrillator."

In September the trust admitted it was struggling to hit national targets to reach the most urgent "red one" and "red two" calls within eight minutes. Crews must reach non life-threatening "green" calls within 20 minutes.

Image copyright KNS News
Image caption Richard Hansbury had suffered a head wound

An ambulance crew had to wait nearly three hours for a second available crew to help them lift 19-stone Mr Hansbury into an ambulance on 3 October. His inquest is on Friday.

He had been found bleeding heavily from a head wound by neighbours who heard his cries for help at his sheltered accommodation in Wigan.

A NWAS statement said in both cases it was "fully investigating" the incidents and offered its condolences to each family.

It added in each incident the trust, "was experiencing a high demand for its services and unfortunately, a number of our resources were waiting with patients at nearby hospitals".

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