Man who died after 80th birthday waited two hours for ambulance

Great-grandfather who died of cardiac arrest the morning after his 80th birthday dinner would have survived if he had not had to wait two hours for ambulance, widow says

  • Ian Day died after his 80th birthday of cardiac arrest at his home in Sturry, Kent 
  • 999 call was placed just before 1am and the service targeted 18 minute arrival 
  • His wife, Sharon, had called an ambulance but they waited for it for two hours 
  • Ian was in pain and could barely breathe when paramedics arrived, family say

A great-grandfather died the day after his 80th birthday while waiting for an ambulance that should have come within 18 minutes but took two hours to arrive.

Sharon Day, 79, lost her husband Ian, after he experienced excruciating chest pains at their home in the quaint village of Sturry, near Canterbury, Kent.

The 999 call at just before 1am was classed as category 2, meaning the ambulance service aimed to reach him within 18 minutes.

But paramedics did not get to the address in Sturry, near Canterbury, until 2.55am, after Sharon had to call them back.

By the time he was attended to by experts, the family say Ian was in ‘agony’ and could barely breathe.

Sharon revealed the last thing her husband said was that he loved her – with that tragically being the last conversation they had as Ian passed away in the morning. 

The family insist Ian was robbed of any chance of survival because of the delay, claiming he would have pulled through if he was attended to sooner. 

Sharon Day, 79, (above) lost her husband Ian, after he experienced excruciating chest pains at their home in the village of Sturry, near Canterbury, Kent

Ian had his first heart attack in 2002, but recovered well and worked as a painter and decorator until he was 70.

At the end of last year, after experiencing chest pains, he was prescribed medication for angina.

At the time of his death, he had been awaiting an angiogram that would have determined whether he needed a stent fitted but his appointment letter did not come through until after his death.

On July 28, Ian celebrated his 80th birthday with a family dinner in Whitstable. But on arriving home, his pain worsened dramatically and he went to bed.

Sharon said: ‘I went in to see him and he was sitting on the side of his bed clutching his chest. He was in agony.’

She called 999 at just before 1am and was told an ambulance would be sent.

But by about 1.40am there was still no sign of it and she frantically rang back. Eventually it arrived at around 3am.

Sharon said: ‘By [the time the ambulance arrived], Ian was in really bad pain.

‘He could hardly breathe. It was horrible.’

The family insist Ian was robbed of any chance of survival be.cause of the delay, claiming he would have pulled through if he was attended to sooner. Pictured: Ian celebrates his 80th birthday with family the day before he died

Ian was given oxygen and morphine and was taken to the QEQM hospital in Margate, and before the two had a chance to speak again he died at 7am of cardiac arrest.

Sharon said: ‘I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me, and that was the last thing I said to him.

‘I never spoke to him again because he died.’

Ian leaves behind four children, 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, who say he would still be alive if paramedics had reached him earlier.

His widow said: ‘He would have survived. He’d have had a chance.

‘I know he was 80 but he didn’t look his age, he didn’t act it. He had a will to live.

‘I’d hoped I had a few years left with him. We still had a lot of things to do, and he loved his family so much.

‘He just loved living. He was an amazing man.’

The 999 call at just before 1am was classed as category 2, meaning the ambulance service aimed to reach him within 18 minutes. But paramedics did not get to the address until 2.55am, after Sharon had to call them back. Pictured: Ian and Sharon share a kiss at his 80th party

Bosses at South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb), the ambulance service, say that when Ian fell ill in July, there were more than 3,000 calls a day – an increase of 24 per cent on July 2019.

Demand has since grown further, with 105,369 calls received in October – the equivalent of one every 25 seconds and its busiest ever month.

Sharon said: ‘I feel really really sorry for other people left waiting for ambulances. I really do.

‘Because I know what I’ve gone through and what I’m still going through, and I find it hard to ever think I’ll get over it.

‘Something needs to happen. They should make it possible for ambulances to be like they used to be years ago.

‘They used to be there within minutes of anybody calling with a heart attack, but now waiting times are just getting longer and longer.’

Sharon (pictured) revealed the last thing her husband said was that he loved her – with that tragically being the last conversation they had as Ian passed the following morning

A spokesman for Secamb said: ‘We would like to send our sincere condolences to Mrs Day.

‘We are very sorry for her experience and for the delay involved in responding to her call.

‘We appreciate how distressing this would have been. We invite her to contact us directly so we can look into her concerns with her in more detail.

‘Throughout the whole summer we have been extremely busy and we continue to face high demand.

‘We are very sorry that this has meant some patients have waited longer than they should. Our staff are working hard to respond to patients as quickly as possible.

‘The public can help us manage this increased demand by only calling 999 in the event of a serious emergency and by making use of alternatives to 999, including NHS 111 online if it’s urgent but not an emergency.’

A spokesman for East Kent Hospitals said: ‘We would like to offer our sympathies to Mr Day’s family after his sad death and would be happy to discuss any concerns they have about his care.

‘We sincerely apologise that his appointment letter was received after his death – unfortunately it had already been produced before the information system was updated.’

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