Northern Ireland

Newtownards parents take ill child to hospital due to lack of ambulance

Image caption The family was told there was no ambulance available to take their ill child to hospital

The ambulance service has apologised to the family of a disabled 11-year-old girl from Newtownards who could not get an ambulance when she fell ill.

Bob Trotter's wife phoned 999 when Katie, who has cerebral palsy, started vomiting and turned blue.

Mr Trotter said he feared his daughter, who also has epilepsy, could die.

"Due to the high level of ambulance activity in the area at the time, an ambulance was not immediately available," the ambulance service said.

"The parents of the child decided to drive her in their own car to the hospital ward.

"NIAS regrets that on this occasion we were unable to provide the level of service that would rightfully have been expected."

Mr Trotter said when his wife phoned for an ambulance, the operator said one had been allocated and when asked how long it would be, she said she did not know but one had been dispatched.

When asked again how long it would be, she then said one was not available. Mr Trotter's wife then drove Katie to the Ulster Hospital.

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Media captionBob Trotter said he thought his daughter Katie was going to die

"I sat in the back with Katie on my knee and she was just basically getting bluer and bluer and more and more floppy and unresponsive," Mr Trotter said.

"I've seen Katie ill in the past, but I thought we're definitely going to lose her. I definitely thought she was going to pass away before we got to the hospital."

'Completely dumbfounded'

He said Katie was worked on as soon as they got into A&E and gradually started to get her colour back and become more responsive.

He said a doctor asked to speak to the ambulance crew who had brought Katie in and when told what had happened he was "completely dumbfounded that Katie was so ill and we had to bring her in ourselves and there was no ambulance available, he just couldn't believe it.

"Other doctors and nurses that we've spoke to since just cannot believe in this day and age a child so ill - going blue - and there was no ambulance to help her," Mr Trotter added.

"Surely it's a given if you dial 999 for an ambulance, you get an ambulance - nobody dials 999 unless it's an emergency."

Mr Trotter said he had great respect for ambulance crews as they had saved Katie's life in the past and also did not

In its statement, the ambulance service said the trust "would like to apologise to the patient and her carers and would be willing to meet with them to provide a fuller explanation of the circumstances and to offer a personal apology".