An ambulance crew was forced to wait in a lay-by for 20 minutes as they fought to save a dying man after being denied access to both Withybush and Glangwili hospitals, the Western Telegraph has learned.
A source, who cannot be named, said that paramedics who fought to save a man pulled from the Mill Pond in Pembroke on New Year’s Day were delayed as they attempted to resuscitate him. The man later died.
Hywel Dda University Health Board and the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust said the incident is being fully investigated.
In what was described as a very unusual situation, the ambulance was told it could not go to the nearest hospital in Haverfordwest, but there was no explanation as to why.
The source said that without a post mortem it could not be said if the delay changed the outcome but standard procedure when someone is being resuscitated is that they are taken to the closest hospital no matter what the bed or ambulance situation is on site.
“He could have had a massive heart attack and nothing would have saved him but a resuscitation attempt was ongoing so the last thing you need is to think where are you going,” the source said.
“The crew sent its status through to the control room and ambulance control said Withybush won’t accept them. It tried to get into Carmarthen but that was unavailable so it was looking to go to Swansea.
“They allowed the patient to go to Withybush in the end but there were a lot of phone calls during that transfer,” he said.
The delay in transfer restricted what the paramedics could do to attempt resuscitation, said the source, as the man needed his core temperature raised – which can be done faster in hospital – before drug therapy could be used.
“There’s going to be a family that are affected by that. It’s not unusual that an ambulance is stopped going to a hospital that is full but never had that when they have a life they are actively trying to resuscitate, normally hospitals pull out all the stops.
“It is very busy at Withybush and they have got excellent staff. The paramedics are doing the job in the back of the ambulance – maintaining life – and the closer it is to the hospital the better. They wouldn’t have contemplated going to Swansea two years ago. It’s a bit nasty at the moment.
“It is 120% affecting morale. Everybody’s asking more from the paramedic, there is massive amounts of work these days, the pressure it is putting on people now.
“The delay might not be an issue in the death, there are delays for other reasons that people survive on but it’s a new one for the ambulance service not to be accepted at Withybush during resuscitation.”
In a joint response from the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust and Hywel Dda University Health Board, a spokesman said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the family at this time. The circumstances surrounding this incident are being fully investigated.”