No ambulance for West Hampstead Nazi survivor left to wait for help in agony
PUBLISHED: 11:45 14 May 2015
A Holocaust survivor died three days after waiting in agony with a fractured leg for more than three hours because no ambulances were available, an inquest heard.
Nora Danzig, 84, had to rely on volunteer-run Jewish fast response ambulance service Hatzola to take her to the Royal Free Hospital on December 14 following a fall outside her home in Wavel Mews, West Hampstead.
The day the retired seamstress fell, the London Ambulance Service (LAS) and hospitals across the capital experienced enormous pressure on resources, with no ambulances available in the time after her fall, St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard on Thursday.
But the delay in getting Mrs Danzig an ambulance did not contribute to her death three days later, assistant coroner Jacqueline Devonish ruled.
She told the court: “It was disappointing that the LAS is having to run with such resource pressure.”
But she ruled Mrs Danzig’s death was an accident, and said: “The medical evidence in relation to this is that the delay did not contribute to the patient’s death.”
Mrs Danzig died from an artery blockage as a result of the fall, the inquest found.
She had fallen from her car and then tripped again, fracturing her left femur.
Her neighbour phoned for an ambulance just after 4.30pm but the first call handler was “curt” and “should have dealt with the caller’s anxiety in a more professional manner”, a spokesman from LAS said in a statement read out in court.
The court was told that under normal circumstances, an ambulance should have reached Mrs Danzig in about 20 minutes.
But three hours after the neighbour called LAS, the decision was taken to ask Hatzola to step in and take her to hospital.
Lynn Sugg, senior quality assurance manager at LAS, said in a statement read out in court: “It was a challenging day.”
She added: “I couldn’t confirm that if the call had been given a higher priority, an ambulance would have been dispatched.”
In December, the Ham&High reported on how LAS had reached “crisis point” across the capital. Camden saw a 20 per cent decrease in target ambulance waiting times between March and October 2014.
Mrs Danzig was scheduled to have an operation on her leg the morning after the fall but it was postponed after doctors found she had an abnormal narrowing of her heart valves.
Her condition then deteriorated rapidly, and she died on December 17.
Mrs Danzig, who was married to Harry Danzig, came to England as a child on the Kindertransport in January 1939 after fleeing Nazi Germany.