Labour demands inquiry into ambulance delay

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Dawn Primarolo, Labour's London health spokeswoman, is calling for an independent inquiry into the death of Nasima Begum, 11, who waited

nearly an hour for an ambulance.

Nasima's story was revealed in Independent London last month. That alerted Labour Party MPs to the inefficiencies of the London Ambulance Service.

Nasima collapsed at her Whitechapel home on a night in June when the service was operating on just over half capacity in east London.

Only seven staffed ambulances were on duty, whereas there should have been 13.

A spokesman for the LAS said the case highlighted the inadequate cover on the night and the fact the control room was 'inundated with work they were not equipped to cope with'.

The tape of what happened that night was played back to Nasima's family by the LAS as part of an internal inquiry. The family made five calls after Nasima, who suffered from nephritic syndrome, collapsed. She died in hospital at 2am.

Four later calls were given priority over those about Nasima. One, reportedly a patient bleeding from the mouth, turned out to be someone with a bad headache.

After listening to the tape of the conversations which took place between the ambulance headquarters and Nasima's parents, Ms Primarolo says the service has to be updated.

Her researcher, Steve Barwick, believes the recording raises enormous questions about what century the London Ambulance Service is living in. 'It had a computer system which failed and it is now using a pen and paper system, which is very evident from this tape.' Ms Primarolo wants the inquiry to look into what is happening to the service generally and why it is still operating such an archaic system.

She has sent a letter to Thomas Sackville, an Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health, raising her concerns.

The LAS has been dogged by controversy since its pounds 1.5m computer system collapsed in October 1992.

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