Inquiry urged over death after ambulance delay

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The Independent Online
DAWN PRIMAROLO, a Labour health spokeswoman, yesterday called for an independent inquiry into why a dying girl had to wait almost an hour for an ambulance while her family looked on helplessly.

Nasima Begum, 11, who had a kidney condition, lay screaming as her family pleaded with ambulance control staff four times for help. The Patient's Charter guarantees an ambulance within 14 minutes. But a shortage of staff and vehicles at the crisis- hit London Ambulance Service meant that she had to wait 53 minutes before help came. She died three-and-a- half hours later at the Royal London Hospital, three minutes away by ambulance from her east London home.

A 999 tape recorded the family's desperate attempts to get an ambulance from the Waterloo base. Nasima can be heard screaming in the background. An internal investigation has revealed there was a lack of ambulances on the night she fell ill, 19 June. Mistakes by staff were said to have contributed to the crisis.

Tom Sackville, a junior health minister, agreed that the delay was 'disgraceful and unacceptable'. LAS said it was a 'very sad and regrettable' case, adding that it had taken on 100 more operations staff since Nasima's death.