A former paratrooper has died of a heart attack after waiting for over an hour-and-a-half for an ambulance, it has emerged.
Peter Wilkinson, 61, who lives in Chorley in the UK, called emergency services last Tuesday at 6:07 p.m. after experiencing chest pains, according to the Daily Mail.
An ambulance didn’t arrive until 7:45 p.m., however—98 minutes later.
It was too late. Wilkinson had gone into cardiac arrest and despite efforts by the paramedics, they were unable to resuscitate him.
Wilkinson’s description of his symptoms—and the fact that he was conscious and breathing—had meant he was triaged as a “category 2,” with a target response time of 18 minutes.
The ambulance service has apologised for the slow response time and said they are launching an investigation.
The incident comes after the NHS announced it is canceling 55,000 routine operations to free up hospital beds as pressures from winter illnesses mount, with a knock-on effect on accident and emergency services.
His daughter Rosie Wilkinson told the Daily Mail: “Maybe if they had been quicker they might have saved him. They must have thought there was a chance.”
“He was waiting so long for an ambulance that we will never know if he could have been saved.”
She said that the most upsetting thing was knowing he suffered alone for 90 minutes.
“He would have been frightened and scared. I feel sad that he suffered for so long without any help.”
She said that when she was informed of her father’s death by police, no one mentioned about the delay, which she first learned of when a reporter from the Daily Mail contacted her. “They didn’t tell me a thing.”
She has contacted the coroners office to ask for an investigation. She says that her father was “sent home with a flea in his ear” after having gone to his doctor about his chest pains between Christmas and New Year. “The doctor said as a precaution they would do an ECG and take his blood on January 22,” she said.
Wilkinson was a father of five, and an ex-paratrooper who survived an IRA bomb attack while serving as a paratrooper in Ireland. He also volunteered locally with a charity, Home-Start Central Lancashire.
“So sad to hear the news of Peter, I will always remember his cheeky laugh and big smile,” a message on the charity’s Facebook page said.
“Peter was a volunteer with us for several years and made a big difference to the many families that he worked with. He will be sadly missed, rest in peace.”
According to the local Radio station 2BR, a spokesperson for the North West Ambulance Service said: “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the patient’s family. Our response time was not as quick as we would like and we are making attempts to contact the family as part of our investigation into the incident.”
According to the Mail, the ambulance service in the local area was very stretched in the days running up to Wilkinson’s death. Patients were stuck in emergency vehicles outside hospital departments for over an hour while they waited for spaces to become free.
The NHS recently advised hospitals to postpone routine operations and appointments to free up bed space as winter illnesses push the already stretched health service to the limits.