Mother’s disgust as 12-year-old daughter forced to wait almost an hour for an ambulance because of ‘drunks’

  • South Central Ambulance Service apologies for delays and says it faced high demands
  • Gemma Cook suffers from a rare brain condition
  • Mum Claire wants to take up issue with MP
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THE mum of a daughter with a rare brain condition has described her ‘living hell’ of waiting for an ambulance while paramedics were busy dealing with drunks.

Gemma Cook, 12, suffers from tuberous sclerosis, a rare condition which affects just one in 10,000 children and causes benign tumours to grow on her brain.

Gemma Cook  with her mother Claire

Gemma Cook with her mother Claire

She also has epilepsy and autism, and in the early hours of Saturday morning, suffered a massive seizure.

Her mum Claire, 39, called for help, and although South Central Ambulance Service sent two medical professionals in 10 minutes, it took almost an hour for an ambulance to arrive.

Claire, of Warblington, Havant, said: ‘I called for an ambulance at about 2.50am. A first responder came very quickly followed by a second paramedic.

‘However there was no ambulance and I was told by the paramedic that crews were tied up because they had been called to drunks.

It’s disgusting that there’s not enough crews out to deal with emergencies

Mum Claire Cook

‘My young daughter was given the highest priority, the same as if you were having a heart attack or been in an accident, but instead she had to wait almost an hour before she could be taken to hospital.

‘I was in a living hell for that hour, it was horrendous.

‘There have always been drunks and always will be, but it’s disgusting my daughter, who was critical, had to wait that long.

‘It’s disgusting that there’s not enough crews out to deal with emergencies.

‘As a result she ended up in intensive care, something that could have been avoided if she got help sooner.’

Gemma spent one night in the intensive care ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital, and a second night on a ward so she could be monitored.

Scas has apologised for the delay.

Paul Jefferies, acting director of operations, said: ‘Unfortunately there was a delay in sending an ambulance crew to convey the patient to hospital, due to high levels of demand.

‘We are sorry on this occasion the timely service we aim to achieve was not of the standard we set ourselves and strive to deliver for every patient.’

Scas said it has six night crews working in the area on the night, which is a ‘typical amount’.

The ambulance service confirmed it was called at 2.47am on Saturday, and based on the information given the call was categorised as an eight-minute response – the highest priority.

A trained co-responder arrived at 2.55am, followed by a specialist paramedic at 2.57am. However Gemma needed to go to hospital and an ambulance did not arrive until 3.38am.

Mr Jefferies added: ‘A trained co-responder was dispatched according to protocol followed by a specialist paramedic.

‘Within Scas, we deploy a highly-trained tier of staff including specialist paramedics. They have undergone enhanced training so our patients are able to receive a high level of clinical expertise and treatment at incidents.’

Claire said she wants to speak to her MP and campaign for more ambulances to be available.

Scas encourages people to drink responsibly and stick to limits.

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