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31 December 2013, 10:23
South Central Ambulance Service have said sorry after a cancer patient died in Southsea on Boxing Day before paramedics arrived.
Ben Horne from Surrey was found collapsed in his hotel room on Thursday morning (26 December). An ambulance crew arrived 22 minutes after the first 999 call, which was categorised as amber, or non life-threatening. This means paramedics should be with the patient within 20 minutes.
The call was upgraded after a second 999 call and although a rapid response car arrived very soon after, Mr Horne had already died.
An ambulance spokesperson says they had 'high call volumes on Boxing Day' and were already committed to other call-outs.
In a statement, South Central Ambulance Service said:
"South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) can confirm that we were called on 26 December at 10:37 to a patient in Southsea.
"We would like to send our sincere condolences to the patient’s family and friends and sincerely apologise for the delay and distress caused.
"We received the call at 10:37 and we arrived on scene at 10:59. We received two calls to attend the patient. The original call came in and based on the information given by the caller it was categorised as an amber call, serious but non life threatening which means we should be at the patient’s side in 20 minutes.
"At 10:58 we received a further call to say that the patient’s condition had deteriorated and the call was immediately upgraded and life saving instructions given over the phone prior to our arrival. The nearest available resource, a rapid response car, was dispatched as soon as it became available at 10:58 from a previous call and arrived on scene at 10:59. An ambulance crew were also dispatched at 11:02 having come clear at Queen Alexandra Hospital however they were stood down prior to arrival.
"We were experiencing high call volumes on Boxing Day. Compared to this time last year in South East Hampshire we have seen demand for our sickest, time critical patient’s rise by 54%, across Hampshire that figure is 33%. This time of the year is busy for all health services. While we plan for an increase in expected demand there are occasions which some of the peak periods outweigh the resource availability.
"We take our response to patients very seriously. It is regrettable that on this occasion all our local resources were already committed to incidents in the area. The nearest available resources were dispatched as soon as they became available."