Woman with broken foot dies after waiting six hours for ambulance on freezing pavement

‘Lengthy waits for an ambulance are a sign of pressures across the whole unscheduled care system, not just in Wales but across the UK,’ ambulance service chief says

Colin Drury
Friday 20 December 2019 13:16
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Woman with broken foot dies after waiting six hours for ambulance on freezing pavement

A woman died after waiting six hours on a freezing pavement for an ambulance when she fell outside her home and broke her foot.

Donna Gilby was unable to move after she tripped while getting out of her car in the village of Cwmaman, near Aberdare.

The 47-year-old was left in agony on the ground with 999 operators telling her frantic family they were dealing with a heavy number of calls.

Neighbours and relatives – who were scared to move the mother-of-one because she suffered with a bad back – covered her with coats and blankets in an effort to keep her warm.

But after finally being transported to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil six hours later, she died of cardiac arrest the next day.

A coroner will now decide whether to hold an inquest.

Her father, Gareth Gilby, said: “It’s just not right that she was waiting all those hours.”

The 74-year-old shared a photograph of his daughter collapsed in the street because the family thought that it was important people were aware of what she had been through.

He told Wales Online: “We called the ambulance service and told them Donna was slipping in and out of consciousness – that must have been somewhere between 8 and 8.30am.

“The call handler told us they were dealing with ‘a heavy influx of calls’ and that they’d be with her ‘as soon as possible’. When there was still no sign an hour later we called again. This time we were told they were doing their best but that they didn’t know when they would get to her.”

An ambulance finally arrived shortly before 2pm, he said.

But Ms Gilby, who had suffered from an irregular heartbeat, died early on Wednesday morning.

“She was as good as gold and always put others before herself,” her father said. “She would do anything for anyone. As a result she put her own problems second.”

There is no suggestion that Ms Gilby’s death was caused by the wait for help but, in a statement, the Welsh Ambulance Service apologised for the delay and promised to investigate the slow response.

Jason Killens, chief executive, said: “We are sorry that our response took longer than we would have liked on this occasion.

“Lengthy waits for an ambulance are a sign of pressures across the whole unscheduled care system, not just in Wales but across the UK. An increase in high-priority red calls and significant hospital handover delays in particular are impacting on our ability to respond to 999 calls as quickly as we would like.”

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