London

Victor Bede: New Year drug-death ambulance delay 'regrettable'

Mr Bede Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Victor Bede, 53, died after collapsing during the early hours of 1 January

A man who died after London Ambulance Service's computer system crashed on New Year's Day should have had a quicker response, an inquest heard.

The coroner said it is not possible to know if receiving treatment earlier would have saved Victor Bede, who died on 1 January after taking drugs.

Dr Shirley Radcliffe recorded a verdict of death by methamphetamine poisoning.

Ambulance bosses apologised to Mr Bede's family and described the delay in reaching him as "regrettable".

Sue Watkins, head of quality assurance at Ambulance Service, told Westminster Coroner's Court, of two major factors contributing to delays in reaching the 53-year-old.

These were exceptional volume of calls on New Year's Eve and a computer failure that meant reliance on paper operations.

"Victor should have had a response sooner", she said.

Image copyright London Ambulance Service
Image caption An IT fault led to ambulance delays on New Year's Day

Mr Bede was seen staggering around and walking into traffic before falling and banging his head outside the Sainsbury's Local on Queensway, the inquest was told.

A pub landlord called 999 but emergency services took 48 minutes to arrive due to pressure on call handlers and emergency crews on their busiest night of the year.

Blood tests showed Mr Bede had taken seven times the recreational use level of methamphetamine (crystal meth).

'No cure'

Questions were raised whether Mr Bede could have been saved if an ambulance had arrived at an earlier stage.

The inquest heard he was treated by an advanced paramedic and that there was no cure or treatment for methamphetamine poisoning.

The coroner was told all that could have been done was the monitoring and management of the patient.

The inquest was told only 9% of patients are successfully resuscitated when they have a cardiac arrest - and that did not factor in methamphetamine poisoning - which would significantly lower the chances.

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