Coroner to raise concerns after Leek OAP Thomas Morrall waited hour for ambulance after fall
A PENSIONER with Parkinson's Disease was left lying on a wet pavement with a broken hip for nearly an hour because of ambulance delays.
Retired pottery worker Thomas Morrall, aged 74, was eventually taken to hospital in his soaking clothes in the back of an un-heated ambulance.
He died two weeks later and while a coroner told an inquest yesterday that the hold-up had not contributed to the tragedy, that was 'more by luck than good judgment'.
Announcing he would be sending the family's concerns to ambulance bosses, North Staffordshire Deputy Coroner Anthony Curzon said performance had dropped since the Staffordshire 999 service was disbanded five years ago.
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He said: "This is a personal view but the service was excellent in the past. There seems to have been some degree of change since it became part of the West Midlands trust.
"Mr Morrall lay on a cold, wet pavement for about an hour and such a delay in this day and age is quite unacceptable. I have noted the family's concerns and will pass them on to the relevant agencies."
Mr Morrall, of Hazel Grove, Leek, who walked with a stick, fell while shopping in the town centre on September 17 last year.
A paramedic was sent after the 999 call was made at 12.13pm but en route to the Derby Street scene he was diverted to a more life-threatening call at 12.23pm.
A second paramedic was sent and arrived at 12.29pm.
He called back to base for an ambulance to take the patient to hospital but it did not arrive until 1.11pm.
A statement read to the hearing from ambulance trust chief executive Anthony Marsh said an investigation had been prompted by the relatives' complaints about the delays.
He said: "We take this complaint very seriously and are sorry for any distress but the response was the correct one."
He added that the ambulance was delayed because of an 'unexpected and unprecedented volume of calls at that time'.
Mr Morrall was taken to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire where he had surgery on a broken hip two days later.
He was transferred to Leek Moorlands Hospital where he died on October 2.
His relatives told how the paramedic was frustrated about the wait for the ambulance and voiced fears of his body temperature falling to the point of hypothermia.
Workers from a nearby charity shop brought out clothing to cover him and try to keep him warm.
Emergency medical consultant Dr Ruth Kinston said in a statement that there was a risk of potential hypothermia from someone lying on a floor for so long and his temperature was 'slightly low' when he got to hospital.
But it was getting back to normal six hours later and there was no evidence that the ambulance delay had adversely affected his condition.
Pathologist Dr Victoria Smith said he died of pneumonia brought on by immobility following the operation. His Parkinson's Disease would have reduced the chances of physiotherapy getting him mobile again.
She added: "He would have been in some discomfort being cold but that did not affect the outcome."
Widow Marion Morrall said: "Nothing can bring him back but Leek is a big area and should have better ambulance cover than this."
Recording a verdict of accidental death verdict, Mr Curzon said: "The delay is a matter of concern but played no part in his death. It must have been a very difficult time for him."