Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 18:26 UK

Ambulance wait 'not acceptable'

Betty Weeks
Great Western Ambulance has apologised to Mrs Weeks's family

A delay in sending out an ambulance to take an 87-year-old woman to Frenchay Hospital was "not acceptable", Great Western Ambulance Service Trust said.

When an ambulance called by Betty Weeks' GP failed to arrive in 11 hours her husband Albert and daughter Merrice took her to hospital by car.

Merrice Weeks, 52, said emergency operators told her they were busy.

"The people who make decisions on sending ambulances out got their priorities wrong," she said.

We waited all night, she was on the sofa in agony and I couldn't do anything to help her
Albert Weeks, husband

She believes if her mother had got to hospital earlier her life could have been prolonged.

"The times we phoned the ambulance service they told us it was a Friday night and they were busy.

"Mum was discriminated against because of her age. In my opinion drunk people were given priority over her," she added.

Mrs Weeks, who was later transferred to Southmead Hospital, died 17 days later from an inflamed liver.

Mr Weeks, 85, said his wife of 59 years may still be alive if there had not been a delay.

"We were dressed and ready to go to hospital - we waited all night, she was on the sofa in agony and I couldn't do anything to help her.

"I rang the ambulance service four times and they told us they were busy and we should wait.

"She might still be with us today if that ambulance had turned up," he added.

Great Western Ambulance Service has apologised and said an investigation was being carried out.

Jonathan Lofthouse, director of service delivery for Great Western Ambulance Service Trust, said: "Our thoughts are with him and his family.

"I would also like to apologise to Mr Weeks for the delay in sending an ambulance to transport his wife in July, and the obvious distress caused at the time.

"The GP requested an ambulance within two hours. Our delay was simply not acceptable.

"I would like to assure Mr Weeks that we are urgently carrying out a full investigation into this case so that we can learn from it and make sure it does not happen again."

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