Woman Dies In Queuing Ambulance

A 73-Year-Old Woman Has Died In An Ambulance In A 36-Minute Queue

22.09.2014

A 73-year-old woman died in an ambulance that was queuing for almost 40 minutes to get into Swansea's Morriston Hospital on Wednesday (September 17th), leading to questions from her family as to why this wait was so long.

Sonia Powell was originally admitted to Neath Port Talbot Hospital, but following a suspected heart attack and the identification of fluid on her lungs, she was transferred to the cardiac unit at the Swansea facility.

However, the ambulance transporting her was forced to wait for a reported 36 minutes outside the hospital, in a queue of eight or nine other ambulances, which were having to line up due to a lack of available beds for patients.

Mrs Powell's family said that a doctor only appeared to attend to her around five minutes before she passed away, adding that they were concerned about how the patient was dealt with in her final minutes.

The deceased had 14 grandchildren and tragically, her death came just 24 hours after the passing of her sister.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, one of Mrs Powell's grandchildren, Kim Thompson, explained that a possible lack of communication between the two hospitals caring for her grandmother appeared to lead to some confusion as to why she was being transferred upon her arrival at Morriston.

Ms Thompson said: "The ambulance man took the notes to a doctor, who asked what the lady was doing there.

"We are not happy. She was very, very unwell and should never have been moved in the first place."

In response to the concerns surrounding the circumstances in which Mrs Powell died, the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board said it wanted to garner a full understanding of exactly what happened, explaining that in busy periods, handovers could become difficult.

However, the board added that the hospital was well staffed on Wednesday, with staff doing their best to keep delays to a minimum and transfer patients to beds as quickly as they could.

Expert Opinion
This tragic case highlights the importance of ensuring those arriving at hospitals in ambulances are given effective treatment quickly. In this instance a 36-minute wait may have contributed to Mrs Powell’s death.

“All too often we see the devastating consequences of delays, which can be fatal in some cases. It is vital a thorough investigation is carried out into the circumstances that led to Mrs Powell being moved to another hospital and the reason behind the bed shortage which led to such a long wait for her to be treated. It is crucial any failings identified by the investigation are corrected and steps are taken to ensure those arriving at hospitals receive the treatment they need quickly to prevent similar tragic incidents in the future.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner