A union chair has said more resources are needed after a coroner criticised an ambulance service for an eight-and-a-half hour delay that he said played a part in a man's death. 

Nigel Parsley, senior coroner for Suffolk, said the lengthy wait had 'directly contributed to the death' of Woodbridge resident Christopher Hart, who died at his home in Old Barrack Lane from a cardiac condition on October 25, 2022. 

In a Prevention of Future Deaths report to the Government's Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), Mr Parsley said the East of England Ambulance Service was unable to attend immediately as ambulances were waiting to off-load patients at local hospitals.

East Anglian Daily Times: Coroner Nigel ParsleyCoroner Nigel Parsley (Image: Charlotte Bond)

And now Glenn Carrington, UNISON union's East of England Ambulance Service branch chair, has hit out at resources within the trust and said they are not enough.

"First and foremost, our thoughts are with Christopher Hart’s family and friends after his tragic and preventable death," he said. 

“Ambulance crews want to be out helping people not queuing outside hospitals. There’ll be plenty of individual paramedics wondering if they could have saved his life if they hadn’t been sat waiting for a bed to become available at A&E.

“Staff are doing what they can with the resources available but Mr Hart’s death once again shows that what’s available doesn’t stretch far enough.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Glenn CarringtonGlenn Carrington (Image: UNISON)

The service has an average expected response time of 40 minutes for an emergency such as Mr Hart's, with a target attendance time of 18 minutes.

Mr Parsley said in the Future Prevention of Deaths report that during his investigations he had received evidence from a patient safety officer of regular occasions when ambulances were unavailable in Suffolk and the east of England.

He added: "I am therefore concerned that the continuing lack of sufficient ambulance resource in Suffolk will lead to future loss of life."

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "We would like to offer our sincerest apologies to Christopher Hart’s family for the delayed response.

"We have noted the coroner’s comments to the Secretary of State and will consider them carefully.

"As we related to the inquest, at the time of this incident the Trust was under significant pressure due to 999 call volume and hospital handover delays.

"Since the start of 2023 our response times have improved due to work to increase the number of frontline staff and available ambulances, but we recognise there is a lot more work needed by us and our partners to improve our response to patients.

"Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Mr Hart at this time."

This comes after the region's ambulance service apologised to the family of a 36-year-old Suffolk woman who died after waiting 10 hours for treatment.

Paramedics from the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) arrived at Gina Bywater's home in Lowestoft nearly 10 hours after the first 999 call on December 13, 2022.

Ms Bywater had become unwell on December 12, with an ambulance requested at about midnight that evening.

Due to high demand, and ambulances waiting to offload patients at nearby hospitals, no ambulance was available, and a second 999 call was made at 1.08am saying that Ms Bywater was suffering chest pains.

A third 999 call was made at 4.07am but no resources were available.

The calls had been coded at Category 2, with an average expected response time of 40 minutes, and a target attendance time of 18 minutes.

The investigation at the end of the inquest concluded the death was due to an untreated cardiac condition, contributed to by a delay in attendance of an ambulance, caused by extreme resource pressures on the ambulance service.