Family relives their night of tragedy: A schoolgirl in desperate need of attention died on a day of inadequate 999 cover in east London, reports Lesley Gerard

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Nasima Begum's family relived the night of her death when they visited the London Ambulance Service headquarters and heard their frantic requests for help played back on the control room tape.

Muhibar Rahman Begum, 17, forced himself to listen to his anguished pleas in a bid to try to understand the events which had began with a normal family Sunday and ended in tragedy.

Unable to fathom why it took an ambulance 53 minutes to reach Nasima, he and his sister Reba accepted an invitation to visit the LAS base in Waterloo.

Reba said: 'It brought it all back, it was so sad. We could hear my brother spelling our our name and address, asking for them to come quickly. You could hear Nasima and the family in the background. '

Nasima, a sufferer of nephritic syndrome, had felt unwell earlier that June Sunday afternoon. She had gone to the Royal London Hospital for her usual weekly drip treatment. After telling doctors she felt fine, she came home.

Later that evening she collapsed. Muhibar first called for an ambulance at 10.41pm. The family made a total five calls.

The ambulance came from Waterloo. Nasima died in hospital at 2am on Monday .

Four later calls were given priority over Nasima's . At 10.41pm a crew attended a person who had collapsed unconscious in east London; in the EC3 region at 10.45 a vehicle was sent to a patient who had fallen down two flights of stairs with a spinal injury; at 10.50 a crew went to a patient who collapsed in Islington; and at 11.09 there was an alleged stabbing in Hackney. Ambulances were dispatched in between 19 and 37 minutes. An LAS spokesman said: 'With so few ambulances available the allocator had to prioritise the calls on the information available.'

Since the LAS computer crashed in October 1992, the service has coped by logging calls on paper.

Reba said: 'Nasima was so brave. We called her Beauty. When the ambulance collected Nasima she came to for a moment and told my mother: 'Don't worry mum, I will be back.' Now nothing is going to bring Nasima back.'

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