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

A prevention of future deaths report has revealed the delay meant lifesaving treatment could not be given to Gina Bywater, "directly" contributing to her death.

The report raised concern that the lack of ambulance resources in Suffolk "will lead to future loss of life" unless action is taken.

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

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.

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.

EEAST made a welfare call at 9.36am, when it was identified that Ms Bywater had gone into cardiac arrest.
A Category 1 response was then initiated and an ambulance arrived at 9.45am. A post-mortem examination identified that she had died as the result of a heart attack.

The publication of the report comes after it emerged that several of EEAST's vehicles were out of action over the summer months and start of autumn after breaking down.

On one day last month, more than half the ambulances were off the road.
An EEAST spokesman said: “We would like to offer our sincerest apologies to Gina Bywater’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 Gina Bywater at this time.”