Princess Alexandra Hospital: Husband’s anguish over death of wife after seven-hour ambulance wait

Health / Wed 1st Dec 2021 at 07:24am

A WIDOWER says he will “never get over” the death of his wife after she waited for seven hours in a “freezing cold” ambulance outside a hospital.

Alison Drewett, 64, was taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, on 7 November after experiencing a seizure.

Her husband Michael told the BBC the couple had waited two-and-a-half hours for an ambulance to reach their home.

A hospital spokeswoman said the case would be investigated.

Mrs Drewett, who had multiple sclerosis, died a few days later after her condition deteriorated further.

Mr Drewett said a paramedic attended their home in Takeley, near Stansted, when she became ill, but the ambulance arrived much later.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) said it had been experiencing “extremely high demand”.

It was horrendous,” Mr Drewett said.

“She was lying on the floor and I was trying to reassure her that she’s OK but when you’re waiting that time – all that time – I’ll never know if she’d have had a better chance had she been got to quicker.”

There was already a queue of other vehicles outside the hospital’s accident and emergency department when they arrived at about 16:40 GMT, Mr Drewett added.

“They just kept saying ‘we’ll get you in soon’,” he said, “but they never did.”

He told how the ambulance was “freezing cold” and that the crew had to keep the engine running to provide warmth.

It was not until his wife had another seizure close to midnight that she was admitted, he said.

We’ve been together for nearly 45 years,” Mr Drewett said. “It’s a lifetime. I’m never going to get over it. It’s just so wrong.”

recent report by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) showed that more than a quarter of patients in ambulances queuing at hospitals in the East of England had potentially experienced “severe harm” as a result. 

Sharon McNally, director of nursing and midwifery at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, offered her condolences to Mr Drewett. 

“We are extremely sorry to hear about the concerns that Mr Drewett has raised regarding the death of his wife and we are investigating the details,” she said.

The EEAS spokesman added: “At the time we received the call we were experiencing an extremely high demand for our services and had to divert two rapid response vehicles and two ambulances to immediately life-threatening emergencies before we were able to attend the scene. 

“The health and care system remains under significant pressure, both locally and nationally, and we are working with partner organisations across health and social care to reduce handover delays and the impact that they have on patients.”

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7 Comments for Princess Alexandra Hospital: Husband’s anguish over death of wife after seven-hour ambulance wait:

David Forman
2021-12-01 09:23:24

This is the end result of closing so many A&E and a failure to provide more resources for the ambulance service. Trying to run a health care system at the limits of its capacity becomes vulnerable to public health emergencies like Coronavirus. The British Medical Association repeatedly warned the Government about the dangers of ooerating a hospital bed occupancy ratio in excess of 85%, and the British Medical Journal reported it was 88.2% rate for the April to June quarter in 2019. The People's COVID Inquiry published its report today and says the Government's handling of the pandemic amounted to "misconduct in public office". You can download the Executive Summary at: https://36085122-5b58-481e-afa4-a0eb0aaf80ca.usrfiles.com/ugd/360851_62aeecaeb6944934b6c55d41708d7eeb.pdf

2021-12-01 10:13:21

Disgusting and this is due to underfunding by the government. The NHS was on its knees before the pandemic. This government wants to privatise it so they can fill their boots with cash.

Michael Hatton
2021-12-01 12:50:08

Sir , I find it absolutely deplorable that this lady died in compromising circumstances, but, I find it also deplorable that some people, through ignorance and spite, try and use this tragic incident in an attempt to cast aspersions and denigrate our politicians, as if they're personally responsible.

2021-12-01 20:31:48

Sir , I find it absolutely deplorable that this lady died in compromising circumstances, but, I find it also deplorable that some people, through ignorance and spite, try and use this tragic incident in an attempt to ignore the effects of over a decade of Tory incompetence and mismanagement, and cast aspersions and denigrate other contributers while ignoring the (in)actions of our politicians, and ensure that they're personally responsible for the promises they make to get elected. Where are the 40 new hospitals that were promised? Where is the new hospital for Harlow that was promised? Has just one brick bee laid? Or one hole been dsug for the new hospital for Harlow? It is not casting aspersions or denigrating our politicians holding them accountable for the promises they make. And pointing out their failure to keep those promises.

Michael Hatton
2021-12-02 07:58:06

Sir, Labour had how many years to wreck Harlow with ineptitude, lies and obfuscation on every level, yet they and their supporters now appear to expect that all the problems within the town to have been resolved in several months, ridiculous and Typical.

Hazel McIntyre
2021-12-04 01:45:09

It’s horrendous just lately. My condolences to the Hewett family. My own mother has been so badly treated by PAH and the NHS in general. She was left in an ambulance for over 7 hours, pushed from ward to ward over the space of 7 weeks. Now she’s been diagnosed as terminal cos they didn’t find the cause of her pain soon enough.

Clare Sims
2021-12-04 08:03:51

It’s absolutely disgraceful. Our Nhs is on its knees That poor lady and her husband should never have to endure that. People are treating the A and E department like a doctors surgery because they are unable to get face to face appointments. Why?? The doctors should still be seeing patients. Why has that changed. There are hospitals that have been built for Covid and they should be used for that. Doctors should not be paid extra for vaccinations. They are choosing this over their general duties. If they want the extra it should be in their tine after their standard working hours. I called an ambulance for my mother this week who is 87 and was told we had a 15 hour wait. I called her surgery and waited about twenty minutes to get through, then listened to the ten minute lecture about Covid before joining the queue to speak to someone. A recorded message then said the queue is full and cut me off. Seriously? I called Nhs 111 and had the same response. Her pulse then registered at 131 so I dialled 999 and got put in another queue with the phone not being answered for 15 minutes. I then decided to drive to her doctors for help and joined a queue for 20 minutes. Eventually a receptionist took her details and said she would get someone to call in the afternoon. I said I was desperate for advice as she was at risk of cardiac arrest and I wasn’t medically trained. We can’t advise you I was told. When I insisted someone in the building call earlier they escalated it. So a Gp rang and said she needed a ambulance. I.5 hours later a first responder arrived and said she needed to go to hospital. Funny that I had already worked it out about 3 hours earlier. But no ambulances were available still so my sister drove her to A and and E where she sat for 3 hours without even being assessed. When my sister asked how long more they would wait she was told at least another 4 hours. How terribly scary for these frightened and elderly sick people. It’s a disgrace. The very people that were lied to and betrayed by the promises made by Boris Johnson about Brexit and the money that would support our Nhs. People that listened and trusted his promises and voted for something that should never have happened forcing good working people from our country that we all need are now facing frightening futures when they need help that they deserve. And we have the winter to get through yet.

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