North East Wales

Trewen pensioner James Wash, 71, died waiting for ambulance

Image caption The Welsh Ambulance Service said the correct protocol was followed

A pensioner died waiting for ambulance despite pleading for one to come quicker, an inquest heard.

James Wash, 71, fell at home in Trewen, Denbighshire, on 19 January and was assessed by 999 call handlers as being a low priority.

He called for an ambulance at 22:30 but when first responders arrived at 01:15 was dead, the Ruthin hearing was told.

Mr Wash suffered a head wound, causing him to lose a lot of blood. The coroner ruled he died of natural causes.

While a Welsh Ambulance Service Trust spokeswoman said it strived to provide a better service, an independent audit confirmed all correct protocols were followed in assessing the case.

The inquest heard retired social worker Mr Wash had become increasingly more unsteady on his feet and had been drinking heavily.

Because of this, he had fallen a number of times before 19 January.

A transcript of his 999 call was read out and Mr Wash had said: "I have fallen over and I can't move and can't walk…. please come, I am very poorly."

He answered a number of questions and was classified Green Three, meaning the incident was not considered immediately serious or life-threatening.

After a clinician failed to contact him, an ambulance was sent to his home.

The first responders saw Mr Wash lying in the hallway and when police broke in, he was dead.

Pathologist doctor Mark Atkinson said he had an 80% blockage of the cardiac artery and could have died any time, although the shock and loss of blood could have contributed to his death.

Image caption Mr Wash's case was not considered not immediately serious or life-threatening

Mr Wash's son Stephen said he felt factors such as his father saying he was unable to move and the fact he did not answer his phone should have triggered a more urgent response from the ambulance service.

But he added: "I don't think in Dad's case it would have made any difference if there had been an ambulance available but it may to someone else."

However, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust's Gill Pleming said the protocol followed was based on international best research.

She said other issues, including ambulances having to queue outside hospitals, had an impact on the response time.

Elizabeth Dudley-Jones, assistant coroner for North Wales East and Central concluded Mr Wash died of natural causes.

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