Ambulance fails to attend stroke

By Joanne Carroll

Son drives mum to hospital after half-hour delay

Thea Hallie, 83, had to wait half an hour for an ambulance that never arrived. Photo / Doug Sherring
Thea Hallie, 83, had to wait half an hour for an ambulance that never arrived. Photo / Doug Sherring

St John is investigating why an ambulance didn't turn up for an elderly woman who was having a stroke - forcing her son to drive her to hospital.

Dave Hallie has written a formal complaint to the ambulance service about the failure with his 83-year-old mother on February 14.

He called an ambulance at midday, the same time as a woman who the Herald on Sunday reported two weeks ago was unable to get an ambulance for her son who was having a severe allergic reaction.

Hallie said his mother, Thea Hallie, had just been released from North Shore Hospital after having a heart attack on February 10.

"I called the Auckland Hospital cardio unit and they told me to call an ambulance immediately," he said.

He gave the communications centre all her details, including her recent visit to the Auckland cardio unit where she had two stents.

"I was assured that an ambulance was on the road as we spoke," he said.

He waited for over half an hour. "As a last resort, I decided to put Mum into my car and drive her to Waitakere Hospital. As we set off I again called 111 asking for the ambulance service and notified the person it would be quicker to take her ourselves," he said.

"We got to the hospital entrance, we saw three ambulances exiting the hospital ground," he said. "We want to know why we waited for well over 30 minutes for an ambulance not more than five minutes from the Waitakere Hospital grounds, and not more than 10 minutes away from the Te Atatu or Whenuapai ambulance stations."

Murray Holt, northern regional operations manager for St John, said the complaint was being taken seriously. "We have written to Mr Hallie informing him we have launched an investigation and we will contact him to explain our findings. If he would prefer it, we would be happy to meet with him to provide him with an explanation of the circumstances."

District operations manager John Takerei said St John monitored its workload constantly. "On that day, between 11am and 1pm, there were 28 ongoing incidents," he said.

- Herald on Sunday

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