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Chef dies after two-hour wait for ambulance

Local MP demands probe into tragedy - after he backed £50m cuts to emergency service

Devastating cuts to emergency services have left a young chef dead after waiting two hours for an ambulance to reach his Norfolk home.

Local Liberal Democrat MP and Health Minister Norman Lamb demanded an investigation yesterday into local ambulance arrival times - despite voting in favour of the NHS cuts and privatisation which are wrecking ambulance services across the country.

In the latest tragic case Peter Nelson, 26, collapsed at his home in the coastal village of Blakeney, Norfolk, after returning from a shift at a local hotel with a headache on November 14.

His parents watched as his condition deteriorated, culminating in him coughing up blood and collapsing on the bathroom floor.

His father Sidney Nelson, 59, and stepmother Haylie Wardhaugh, 45, dialled 999 at 11.15pm. A paramedic arrived about 15 minutes later but because of Mr Nelson's condition called for an ambulance to get him to hospital.

Despite repeated calls no ambulance arrived until after 1am the next day - taking more than six times longer than targets dictate.

By the time he reached Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, it was too late to save him. Sidney Nelson said he was disgusted by the delay.

He said: "He was an otherwise healthy young man. He just came home one night and it was obvious there was something seriously wrong.

"We just wanted to get him to hospital as quickly as we could to get him the treatment he needed."

Mr Lamb supported a £50 million cut in ambulance funding - as did all Norfolk's MPs - but is now questioning the local service's ability to meet arrival targets.

East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAT) response times have been criticised as being among the worst in the country.

Changes have included a freeze on paramedic recruitment and downgrading of some services as a result of cuts.

Health Emergency campaign group director John Lister said: "Performance levels in many areas are well below official targets, but ministers like Norman Lamb say nothing unless a major service failure happens on their doorstep.

"Ambulance services themselves need emergency treatment to restore lost standards and quality of care.

"As A&Es come under greater pressure and in some areas local A&E services are closed, instead of strengthening and investing in ambulance services, we find a squeeze on funds and cash-cutting measures including a reliance on unskilled assistants rather than full paramedics, and short-sighted stop-gap measures using private ambulances to fill gaps in NHS services."

EEAT has an increasingly shocking record of late arrivals and deaths.

Four months ago a three-month-old baby died after an ambulance took more than three times longer than national targets dictate to reach her home.

And a 93-year-old woman died when the ambulance arrived after four hours.


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