Hospice ponders DIY option for ambulance

The Hospice Of St Francis
The Hospice Of St Francis

A hospice may take on the financial burden of paying for its own ambulance service after a seriously ill patient waited six hours to be transported to the specialist centre.

Northchurch-based Hospice of St Francis medical director Sharon Chadwick requested a ‘within the hour’ ambulance at 6pm on Tuesday evening for a frail lady with breathing difficulties after visiting her at her Hemel Hempstead home.

But the stretched East of England Ambulance Service, which has to prioritise life threatening 999 calls, was unable to pick her up until just before midnight.

“The family were considering putting her in their car but that wouldn’t have been a wise move. She was too unwell and needed a stretcher and oxygen,” said Dr Chadwick.

Now the charity, which relies heavily on fundraising, is considering entering into a contract with a private ambulance service.

Dr Chadwick, who stressed that she had no criticism of the ambulance teams but only of the overloaded system said: “I think that is the only way we are going to be able to get the kind of service that we would like to provide for our patients.”

The lady patient is now comfortable and being cared for at the hospice.

Ambulance bosses have apologised for the delay and promised to investigate.