Former nurse dies after 14 hour wait in A&E
The daughter of a pensioner who died of pneumonia just days after being left for hours lying in agony on a cold floor because no ambulances were available to help has decried the state of the NHS, saying she would rather end life than grow old in the UK.
Helen Forde watched as her 92-year-old mother, Bridget Forde, drifted in and out of consciousness after suffering a fall and breaking her hip last month.
Despite serious heart problems and being in severe pain, it took four 999 calls and a wait of more than five hours before an ambulance arrived. Her nearly-blind daughter, who was “unable to see if she’d turned blue”, said she was repeatedly told no help was available.
When paramedics eventually arrived at her home in Birchwood Avenue, Muswell Hill, they were said to be shocked at her condition. Mrs Forde was taken to the Whittington Hospital in Archway where she waited another 14 hours in A&E for a bed.
What turned out to be a minor bone fracture ended with her dying of pneumonia six days later (on December 8) – something her daughter is convinced is the result of the slow ambulance response time and an NHS “in crisis”.
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She said: “The last memory I have of my mother is her lying on that floor in agony. It’s something I can’t forgive nor forget.
“She was such a lovely lady – a committed Christian who loved thy neighbour more than herself.
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“As a nurse, child minder and then carer for the elderly, she spent her entire life looking after others.
“She lived here for 50 years and was the kind of person who would always help others. She was so loved, her community gave her an outstanding neighbour award.
“But when she needed help she was treated like an animal.
“I have no children of my own to help look after me when I’m old and seeing what happens to the elderly in today’s NHS has been truly terrifying. When I’m 80, I’m tempted to head to Switzerland [where euthanasia is legal].”
Ambulance waiting times across London have rapidly deteriorated over the past nine months, with Haringey the borough hardest hit. Targets for A&Es have also been missed by many hospitals, including the Whittington.
A spokesman from London Ambulance Service said: “We were extremely busy and are very sorry for the delay and for any further distress this will have caused.”
A Whittington Health Trust spokeman said: “We would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Ms Forde and we are sorry to hear of her experience.
“In common with other NHS trusts we are experiencing high demand for our services including increased attendance at the emergency department and admissions onto our wards.
“The trust takes the care and safety of our patients extremely seriously and when we are unable to offer a bed on a ward as quickly as we would like to, we ensure our highest priority is the treatment and safe care of the patient.
“While we are unable to specifically discuss an individual’s care, we endeavoured to make Ms Forde as comfortable as possible while she was in A&E, and kept her under close and regular observation.”