Sussex pensioners faced ambulance delays, inquest told

South East Coast Ambulance Image copyright SECAMB
Image caption The coroner said all three deaths involved "issues relating to the prompt dispatch of an ambulance"

Ambulance delays have been linked to the deaths of three pensioners, one of whom stopped breathing as she waited for help, an inquest has heard.

Maurice Goodwin, Anthony Harding and Daisy Filby all died in Sussex in 2017.

At Hastings Coroner's Court, senior coroner Alan Craze said all three deaths "involve issues relating to the prompt dispatch of an ambulance".

Mrs Filby, 90, waited for two hours and 25 minutes, as she lay face down and unable to move, the inquest was told.

Her daughter, Linda Filby, said she could not lift her and kept ringing 999, on 19 June.

She said on her last attempt, she asked the ambulance service to hurry up because her mother "was clearly now in distress".

The inquest heard Mrs Filby, from Seaford, stopped breathing and was pronounced dead after paramedics arrived.

Ms Filby said: "If the ambulance had arrived within the normal timescale, the paramedics would have been able to help."

A post-mortem examination said she died from postural asphyxia and hypertensive heart disease.

'Had to leave him'

Maurice Goodwin, 87, from Eastbourne, had been discharged from hospital on 31 August when his family found his trousers soaked in blood from his catheter, which was also full of blood.

His wife, Barbara Goodwin, called 999 at 17:52 BST, but was told an ambulance would not be coming and her husband had been referred to the community team.

When nobody arrived, she kept calling 999 and then her husband slipped, the inquest heard.

"I had to leave him where he had fallen," she said.

District nurses arrived at 21:05, more than three hours after the first 999 call, she said.

She said: "They said it was too late and he had died."

Post-mortem tests found he died from an exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and ischemic heart disease.

Mrs Goodwin said she wanted to know "why the ambulance service failed to attend what was clearly an emergency".

"I wish more than anything that he hadn't had to die like this," she added.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The three were all pensioners in their 80s and 90s

Anthony Harding collapsed on 21 August and his wife called 999 at 18:32.

The inquest heard ambulance technician Chris Leahy was dispatched at 19:36 and arrived at 19:45.

He found Mr Harding on his back in a bathroom with a clear airway, but called for backup after the 84-year-old had a seizure and was sick.

Paramedics arrived at 20:31 followed by a critical care paramedic at 22:21, but Mr Harding, of Wivelsfield, was pronounced dead at 22:34.

A post-mortem found he had a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The inquests continue.

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