Woman dies in Welsh hospital after six-hour wait for ambulance

A 47-year-old woman died after falling outside her home and waiting for several hours on a cold pavement for an ambulance.

Donna Gilby was unable to move after breaking her foot in the fall on a residential street in the village of Cwmaman in south Wales.

Gilby’s family claim she was there for almost six hours until an ambulance arrived, during which time neighbors and relatives covered her with coats and blankets to try to keep her warm.

She was eventually collected and taken to hospital, where she later died of cardiac arrest.

The Welsh ambulance service accepted that the response took longer than it would have liked and it has launched an investigation. It said an increase in the number of high-priority “red” calls and significant hospital handover delays were affecting its response times.

Gilby’s father, Gareth Gilby, 74, said she tripped as she was getting out of her car. “There was nothing we could do because she had a bad break and we couldn’t physically move her from the pavement,” he said. “We kept ringing the ambulance and she was in and out of consciousness but they still didn’t show up for hours.”

He added: “I still can’t believe she’s gone. I’m in shock. We’ve got an 11-year-old girl here now without a mother. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Gilby was on her way to a doctor’s appointment when her family say she fell shortly before 8 a.m. on Tuesday. “We then called the ambulance service and told them Donna was slipping in and out of consciousness – that must have been somewhere between 8 a.m. and 8.30 a.m.,” her father said.

“The call handler told us they were dealing with a heavy influx of calls and that they’d be with her as soon as possible. When there was still no sign an hour later, we called again. This time we were told they were doing their best but that they didn’t know when they would get to her.”

He believes the ambulance arrived shortly before 2 p.m.. It took his daughter to Prince Charles hospital in Merthyr Tydfil where she died in the early hours of Wednesday.

He said: “She always put others before herself – she’d do anything for anyone. As a result she put her own problems second, like the fact that she’d struggled with her weight and ill health for years.”

The chief executive of the Welsh ambulance service, Jason Killens, said: “We were deeply saddened to hear about the death of Ms. Gilby and would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to her family. We are sorry that our response took longer than we would have liked on this occasion. Our ambulance service exists to care for people, and our staff share the same upset and frustrations as patients and their loved ones at times like this.

“Lengthy waits for an ambulance are a sign of pressures across the whole unscheduled care system, not just in Wales but across the UK. An increase in high-priority red calls and significant hospital handover delays in particular are impacting on our ability to respond to 999 calls as quickly as we would like.”

(Source: The Guardian)

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