10 Aug 2022

Woman waits two hours for ambulance after collapsing at Derry cinema

Brunswick Superbowl
Concerns have been raised over ambulance cover in the city after a woman who collapsed at a Derry cinema was forced to wait two hours for an ambulance to arrive. The incident happened at the Brunswick Moviebowl in the Pennyburn Industrial Estate on Saturday, September 21. Eamonn McLaughlin, Manager of the cinema at Brunswick Moviebowl in Pennyburn, said that an ambulance took a full two hours after a female customer became ill and collapsed before 4pm. It was almost 6pm before an ambulance arrived. Speaking to the Derry News, said that when they contacted the emergency services, the operator said they were ‘inundated’. It was brought to our attention that a customer was feeling unwell. “We always have quite a few first aiders on site so the lady was assessed and we decided we needed to ring for an ambulance while the customer was left in a comfortable position with a blanket and pillow. “The ambulance was first called at 3.45pm and didn’t arrive until 5.45pm. “We rang again at about 4.20pm and we were told that they were inundated with calls and they couldn’t tell us how much longer it would take, but that if there were any further concerns to ring back. “At about 5pm we were quite concerned because she was getting very weak and we wanted to know if we should try to have her gently lifted into a car to get her to hospital.” Mr McLaughlin said that after contacting the operator again, they were told that the ambulance was coming from Strabane. “We wanted to know what the best thing to do was so we rang again at about 5pm and were told that an ambulance was on its way but that it was making its way from Strabane so was still quite a way off,” he added. “I had discussed it with the telephone operator and with the family and we decided to make the customer comfortable as we didn’t want to move her.” Mr McLaughlin said that he understood that the serious delay was down to the fact the ambulance service was ‘inundated’ with calls and didn’t have the resources to cope. However, he said he was happy that the woman was recovering well and that it had not been more serious. “Thankfully, she is doing well,” he said. “But if it had been more serious, it could have been a very different story.” Deteriorating position A spokesperson Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) confirmed that they received a call at 3.46pm last Saturday and, based on the information given, ‘the call was determined to be Category C, neither serious, nor immediately life-threatening’. The spokesperson said that the call was referred to the Clinical Support Desk (CSD) Paramedic based in the Emergency Control Room, which returned a call at around 4.15pm to establish further details and advice was given if the patient’s condition deteriorated to call 999 again. “An ambulance had already been despatched by 5.04pm when a further 999 call was made at 5.16pm relating the deterioration of the patient’s condition and the call was upgraded to Category A, potentially serious or life-threatening,” the spokesperson added. “The ambulance then arrived at the scene at 5.44pm and the patient was assessed, treated and discharged at the scene.” Increase in demand The NIAS spokesperson apologised for the wait and said that, in the last five years, there has been an increase in demand for ambulances with calls going up by almost 50 per cent. “NIAS would like to apologise for any discomfort and distress caused to the patient during her wait for the arrival of an ambulance,” the spokesperson added. “There has been an increase in ambulance response times over recent years and the main reason for this is the year on year increase in demand for our service.” “The number of calls to the Ambulance Service has increased from 150,093 in 2012/13, to 220,090 in 2017/18, an increase of 46 per cent.” The NIAS spokesperson said that there has been a system in place to respond to the most serious cases first and urged the public to engage in a public consultation on the new model, was launched on Thursday. “In order to address this deteriorating position, NIAS has undertaken a detailed demand and capacity analysis which has established the level of additional capacity required to meet demand within the target timescales, and is developing proposals for a new clinical response model to provide the most urgent response to the most clinically urgent patients,” she said. “This proposed new model is based on similar models introduced elsewhere in the UK which have proved effective and indicate improved patient outcomes. “A public consultation on this proposed new model will be launched today and will be available on our website “NIAS would encourage all stakeholders to engage during the consultation process.” Heroes Meanwhile, the Foyle MLA and SDLP Health spokesperson Mark H Durkan, said that he had spoken to the Chair of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service with regard to shortages in the emergency service. “I recently met with the newly appointed Chair of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, Nicole Lappin, to highlight my concerns about the shortage and lack of cover in the North West area, which she accepted the merit of,” he said. “She outlined her desire to transform the service and make it fit for purpose. “The problems aren’t to do with the state of the fleet; it is actually the shortage of human resources available.” He added: “There are just not enough people in the job and I do not think the people doing the job have adequate support. “In fact, it is usually people who work on ambulances who share their concerns with me about the state of affairs that prevents them from doing their job and getting to people on time. “This is no reflection on the staff, they are absolute heroes but at times they are covering distances from Limavady to Omagh, leaving only one ambulance in this area.” Pictured above: Brunswick Moviebowl where a woman who collapsed last Saturday had to wait two hours for an ambulance to arrive. (photo by Deidre Heaney

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