North West Wales

Anger as patient left in hot ambulance vehicle for 20 minutes

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Media captionMr Richards: 'I could gradually feel myself drifting down and I just passed out'

A 77-year-old patient with diabetes claimed he fainted after being left in an ambulance car outside a hospital for 20 minutes in hot temperatures.

The Welsh Ambulance Service said it is concerned about the way John Richards from Old Colwyn was being cared for after a hospital appointment.

"I was just abandoned," said Mr Richards who is visually impaired.

Clwyd West AM Darren Millar wants an inquiry, he said: "You wouldn't leave a dog alone in a vehicle on a hot day."

Mr Richards had been at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire, for a routine appointment and was expecting to travel home in a patient transport car operated by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

But it is claimed the driver left him in the four door saloon car with the windows shut while he went to collect a second patient from another part of the hospital site at about 14:00 BST last Tuesday with temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius.

Mr Richards, who has limited mobility, said he was too frail to open the door or call for help, and passed out in the heat.

'Sack of potatoes'

"It was very, very hot in the car," he told the Jason Mohammad Programme on BBC Radio Wales.

"My stick had been put in the boot so I hadn't anything I could bang on the window with.

"I tried tapping the window and shouting but the heat was overcoming me and, because of my health, I hadn't got the strength to be able to do anything.

"So I was just trapped and I could gradually feel myself drifting down and I just passed out.

"I was just abandoned and that is total dereliction of duty of care whichever way you look at it.

"You do not treat a human being like a sack of potatoes."

Conservative shadow health minister Mr Millar said: "I'm disgusted. I cannot understand why any elderly, frail person would be left in a vehicle like this on a sweltering hot day.

'Reassure patients'

"It was bound to have some consequences for his health.

"I want to see this investigated and I want assurances from the Welsh Ambulance Service that situations like this will not be occurring in the future."

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesman said: "We are aware of this incident and are very concerned at the issues raised.

"We are currently investigating this matter and as such it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time.

"However, we will make contact with the patient to discuss this situation as soon as possible.

"We make in the region of one million patient transport journeys each year and I would like to reassure our patients that incidents like this are extremely rare."

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