Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Woman's six-hour ambulance wait

Thirza Gover
Mrs Gover died in hospital five weeks later

An ambulance service has apologised to the family of a 92-year-old woman who waited nearly six hours to be taken to hospital after suffering a stroke.

Thirza Gover was then taken on a detour to a maternity unit after the ambulance picked up a pregnant woman en route to Southampton General Hospital.

She died of age-related natural causes, including pneumonia, five weeks later.

South Central Ambulance Service said the delay, in March this year, was due to increased calls and pressure.

Mrs Gover suffered a stroke on 24 March, at her home in Totton, Southampton, prompting a doctor to be called.

'Shell-shocked'

The doctor asked for a non-urgent ambulance to be sent within four hours, suspecting the stroke had occurred more than 24 hours earlier.

But the ambulance did not arrive, prompting Mrs Gover's daughter, Pauline Prentki, to dial 999.

An ambulance eventually arrived nearly six hours after the doctor's call - one hour and 44 minutes after the agreed four-hour response time.

The paramedics then made a detour to the city's Princess Anne Hospital, with Mrs Gover onboard, after a man flagged them down to help his pregnant wife.

Ms Prentki said her mother had looked "shell shocked" throughout her ordeal.

"I thought she looks lost, she doesn't know what's going on and that was sad - in this big ambulance with these people she doesn't know and she just looked - so confused and lost," she said.

Patient 'stable'

South Central Ambulance Service said in a statement: "Unfortunately, due to increased calls and pressure at hospitals we did not arrive at the patient's address until one hour 44 minutes after the attendance time agreed with the patient's GP."

The trust added the crew had stopped to pick up the pregnant woman after checking with Mrs Gover that this was alright.

"If the patient they have onboard their vehicle is stable, then crews are free to take an additional patient onboard if all parties are agreeable," the trust added.

It said it was contacting the family to apologise for the delay.



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