Classical music singer's distress at two hour wait for ambulance after collapsing in street

Wednesday, 16th April 2014

A FORMER classical singer for the BBC who collapsed unconscious in West Hampstead was left on the pavement for nearly two hours waiting for ambulance crews to arrive – with paramedics claiming shortage of staff is getting “worse and worse”. 

The 64-year-old woman suffered an epileptic fit in Priory Road as she walked to an evening prayer service at St James’ Church last week. 

The Greencroft Road resident, who did not wish to be named, suffered a series of “convulsions” around 6pm that caused her to fall unconscious to the ground, where she was helped by passers-by who dialled 999. 

But paramedics did not arrived for an hour and 48 minutes, a spokeswoman for the London Ambulance Service confirmed. 

The victim, who is a retired classical singer who often performed for the BBC, told the New Journal that it was only when she was being helped into a neighbour’s car that the ambulance arrived and she was taken to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. 

She said: “If it had been a heart attack I could have died.”

Father Andrew Cain of St James’ Church, in Sherriff Road, said of the incident last Thursday: “The ambulance crew told the bystanders to complain – they said ambulance cover is getting worse and that there were simply no ambulances on call to cover the cases being received. My friend lay on the pavement for nearly two hours, cared for by friends and neighbours magnificently while the Health Service left her to whatever illness had overtaken her. David Cameron keeps telling us the Health Service is safe with them – this is clearly not true and we see more and more evidence of this every day.”

The victim, who has lived in West Hampstead since 1973, added: “I had wonderful care from the paramedics and from the hospital. I don’t know how these things are done, how they decide who is critical and who is not, but if it had been critical I could have died.

“I was very fortunate to be there with a young lady doctor and then a nurse came, how fortunate was I? I was walking from my home, which is about an eight-minute walk at my ambling pace, and I got about half way there and I don’t remember anything until I woke up on the floor to find a doctor leaning over me. 

“So I must have been there for a while. Just as I was getting into someone’s car to go to hospital they turned up. I have absolute faith in what the ambulance services do, it is just a pity if they feel thwarted by lack of staff.”

A spokeswoman from the London Ambulance Service said: “We can confirm that we were called at 5.59pm on April 10 to Priory Road to reports of a female patient who was unwell. 

“We received two further calls, during which it was confirmed that the patient was conscious, but unfortunately we were unable to send an ambulance as quickly as we would have liked and we are sorry for this delay. 

“An ambulance crew arrived at 7.47pm and treated the patient before taking her to hospital.”

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