I nearly died after I was forced to wait nine hours for an ambulance amid NHS pressures – just get a taxi

A DAD has urged Brits who need life-saving care to ‘just get a taxi’ to A&E after he nearly died following a cardiac arrest.

Darrel Wilson said he ‘wouldn’t be here right now’ if he hadn’t made his own way to hospital after being forced to wait nine hours for an ambulance.


Darrel Wilson ended up in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrestCredit: SWNS
He said he 'wouldn't be here' if his wife hadn't driven him to hospital


He said he ‘wouldn’t be here’ if his wife hadn’t driven him to hospitalCredit: SWNS

The 54-year-old had started to experience chest pains on October 8 and called for an ambulance at around 10.20pm that evening.

However, the JCB worker said paramedics didn’t arrive at his home in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, util 7.46am the next morning.

His worried wife Debbie Wilson had to drive him to A&E, where he went into cardiac arrest shortly after.

Experts at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) state that a cardiac arrest will usually happen without warning.

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Without getting treatment straight away, the person will die and if you see someone having cardiac arrest you should phone 999 immediately and start CPR, the experts said.

Darrel said: “The phone operator just kept telling us, the next ambulance in the area will be coming to you – but it never did.

“We called 999 eight times, and kept being asked the same questions. In the end Debbie drove me, and if she hadn’t of done, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

The dad-of-four had spent the night lying on the floor while Debbie made eight separate calls to the emergency services, frantically trying to hurry things up.

Debbie, a sales administrator, said: “At first when we spoke with someone, we felt confident we were in good hands.

“They took all the details off me, his symptoms, my address, and asked, ‘Is he conscious? Is he breathing?’.

“At the time he was, and they asked, ‘What’s the ratio of pain between one and 10?’ He said, ’20’. They said, ‘We’ll have an ambulance to you as soon as we can’.

“But the ambulance never showed, and in the end Darrel’s pain was too much to bear.”

At 6am, Debbie made the decision to drive her husband to A&E.

He went into cardiac arrest, but was successfully resuscitated after 11 defibrillator compressions.

What is cardiac arrest and what are the signs you need to know?

There are different causes of the illness and the BHF says that one of these is abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF).

Guidance from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) states that this happens when the electrical activity of the heart becomes so chaotic that the heart stops pumping, Instead, it quivers or ‘fibrillates’.

The charity adds that the main causes of cardiac arrest are:

  • a heart attack (caused by coronary heart disease)
  • cardiomyopathy and some inherited heart conditions
  • congenital heart disease
  • heart valve disease
  • acute myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle).

It could also be caused by:

  • electrocution
  • a drug overdose
  • a severe haemorrhage (known as hypovolaemic shock) – losing a large amount of blood
  • hypoxia – caused by a severe drop in oxygen levels.

Darrel then underwent emergency surgery where he had two stents put into his heart, and was released from hospital five days later.

Since then, he has been recovering well but says he has now lost confidence in the NHS.

 “The nurses have said that if I had waited any longer for the ambulance, I wouldn’t have a stent and I wouldn’t be alive.

“We just kept hanging on, and every time we rang, we had to answer the same questions every time. They don’t tell you how long it’ll be.

“I was in that much pain that I was on the floor most of the time. I thought it was the end of my life. The pain was just horrendous.

“I just want to tell other people so it doesn’t happen to them.

“If it happened to me again, I wouldn’t wait for an ambulance, no way – I’d go straight away and get a taxi.”

Darrel’s story comes after it was revealed that Brits are waiting up to four days in A&E as the winter crisis bites.

Ambulance and emergency department wait times have grown to their longest ever in recent months.

Around 40,000 people per month now spend over 12 hours in A&E.

Ian Higginson, of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, called the situation “appalling”.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “We would like to apologise to Mr Wilson and his family for the delayed response.

“The ambulance service relies on each part of the health and social care system working together so that our ambulances can get to patients in the community quickly.

“Sadly, the pressures we are seeing in health and social care lead to long hospital handover delays with our crews left caring for patients that need admitting to hospital rather than responding to the next call.

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“The result is that our crews are delayed reaching patients.

“We are working incredibly hard with all of our NHS and social care partners to prevent these delays, looking at new ways to safely hand over patients quickly so that our crews can respond more rapidly and save more lives.”

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