Burgess Hill daughter relives tragic wait for ambulance for sick dad

A Burgess Hill daughter has spoken of her anguish as she waited more than three hours for an ambulance for her sick dad – who later died in hospital.

Sally-Ann Lilley, 50, of Huntingdon Way, got in touch after reading a report on our website about a woman in Copthorne who had to wait nearly four hours for an ambulance, which she said ‘brought everything back’.

Sally-Ann Lilley with her dad Doug Mitchell

Sally-Ann Lilley with her dad Doug Mitchell

She said: “I felt so sorry for the family, as I knew how they felt. It was horrible reading it – I felt sick.

“It took three and half hours for the ambulance to get to my dad. This is an awful long time for an 88-year-old to wait for an ambulance. We need more ambulances and more funding.”

Sally said her dad Doug Mitchell, who worked at the Middy for 48 years, was healthy, but two weeks before his death she started to see something was not right.

“He was an incredibly fit man so it was all very quick,” she said.

I was told it was going to be some time but you don’t expect three and a half hours.

Sally-Ann Lilley

“He had open heart surgery in 2010, which he recovered from really well. At the start of February this year he became very confused and quite wobbly. He went to his GP who said it was his heart again.

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“Then, he wrote his car off on his own drive so I took him back to his GP, who still insisted it was his heart. This was not my dad – it was like he had got dementia almost overnight.”

Sally said she was forced to ring for an ambulance when she found Doug had been up all night, and could not speak or recognise her.

She called his GP to ask for one to be be sent out, as from past experience, she said she knew this was quicker. “I was told it was going to be some time but you don’t expect three and a half hours,” she said.

Doug was diagnosed with sepsis and pneumonia and died at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath on March 13.

She added: “The staff were amazing with dad, I couldn’t blame them, I know how busy they are.

“I don’t know if an ambulance coming sooner would have got the antibiotics to him quicker, which may have saved him, I will never know, but I do think it is a story that a lot of people will relate to.”

A South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) spokesman said: “We take any concerns raised seriously and we are very sorry we were not able to respond to this call as quickly as we would like.

“This call appears to have been made on behalf of the patient by a GP for an ambulance attendance within two hours. It was then upgraded to receive a higher priority response.

“We are always sorry when the level of service a patient receives falls below the expected standard and would invite Mrs Lilley to contact us directly to look into her concerns in more detail. We are also sorry to hear that her father has since passed away.

“We have committed to spending a recently-announced increase in our funding on improving frontline services by bringing in additional staff and vehicles. This will help us respond in a more timely manner, in particular to lower priority patients, who may not be in a life-threatening condition but still require an ambulance response.”