Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 12:27 UK

'Wrong ambulance' gangrene fears

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John Haines says he missed appointments with a surgeon because of the ambulances sent to collect him.

A man with gangrene fears it may spread as he has missed three appointments with a surgeon because of problems with ambulances sent to collect him.

John Haines, 61, of Thornhill, Cardiff, cannot walk and needs a vehicle with a rising platform to exit his house.

He said despite instructions from his GP for the last three Tuesdays the wrong ambulance turned up twice, and then the right one arrived too late.

The Welsh Ambulance Service said it could not comment on individual cases.

Mr Haines, a diabetic who has suffered major complications, lives about four miles from the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

He started to develop gangrene about four weeks ago following a fall.

If I listen to the health professionals it could be a radical operation the longer this condition remains untreated
John Haines

He believes he is facing the possibility of the amputation of at least a toe but fears if he is not seen soon it could be worse.

"I'm very concerned. I've always got in the back of mind if you've got gangrene there's going to be an amputation," he said.

"If I listen to the health professionals it could be a radical operation the longer this condition remains untreated.

"I have another appointment with the surgeon next Tuesday. I'm just hoping it will be fourth time lucky."

Mr Haines cannot get down the steps outside his front door so needs an ambulance with a platform that can be raised and lowered.

I find it amazing we can put a man on the moon but we can't get a patient four miles down the road to hospital
Janis Haines

It can then reverse to his front door so that a stretcher can be wheeled into the house and back out.

He said due to his weight he was also oversized for some of the equipment in a standard ambulance.

Mr Haines said because he had been admitted to hospital as an emergency patient more than 20 times in recent years the ambulance service was aware of the issues.

"The ambulance crews have been very professional. They were very very apologetic that they could not get me into the ambulance because the ramp was not capable of covering all the steps," he added.

His wife Janis said it was "obvious" he needed urgent treatment.

"It's very frustrating because as much as you try to make sure arrangements are in place it never seems to happen on the day," she said.

"I find it amazing we can put a man on the moon but we can't get a patient four miles down the road to hospital."

A spokesman for the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust said it could not comment on Mr Haines's case due to patient confidentiality.

But he added that if a complaint had been made it would be thoroughly investigated.



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