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August 6, 2013

Teen dies from asthma attack after ambulance 'goes to wrong address'

Cambridge Evening News

CAMBRIDGESHIRE, England — The case of a 14-year-old girl who died from an asthma attack while waiting for an ambulance is the latest in a list of “catastrophic” failings from the emergency service.

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert heavily criticised the East of England Ambulance Service yesterday, after the trust admitted that a delay in reaching Elouise Keeling may have contributed to her death.During June, the under-fire NHS trust reported two more serious incidents – in which patients died or serious harm occurred because of failings – following on from 52 in 2012/13, with one of these being the death of Elouise, from Ellington, reported in the News earlier this summer.

The youngster was with friends at an Air Cadet meeting in Brampton on Tuesday, June 25, when she collapsed following an asthma attack. An ambulance crew and the East Anglian Air Ambulance were called out but arrived too late to save the Hinchingbrooke School pupil.

Mr Huppert said: “This is tragic news and my sympathy is with family and friends at this sad time. I trust there will be a full investigation into this matter so that a detailed and frank account can be given to the family.
“It has been understood and well-documented that there have been catastrophic problems with this ambulance service due to poor leadership which has resulted in the resignation of many of the directors.

“I understand new highly experienced interim directors have been put in place now to implement a turnaround plan – but that won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, I trust everything will be done to safeguard patients and action taken to clear the backlog of complaints quickly and efficiently.”

At the latest trust board meeting, John Martin, interim director of clinical quality, said the other serious incident for June related to a patient who was hanging when paramedics arrived but who has since been discharged from hospital.He said: “Both of these incidents focus around delays and they are being investigated to find whether this was the specific cause.”

No further comment is expected until the investigation findings are released.

Meanwhile, the trust received 80 new complaints about its service in June – up from 18 the month before. The vast majority of upheld complaints were due to a delay in ambulance attendance, followed by the standard of treatment and assessment, and then the attitude of staff.

Interim directors have expressed concerns about the number of complaints not dealt with within a target of 25 working days, with Andrew Morgan, interim chief executive, describing some as “whopping big.”

Dr Geoffrey Harris, interim chairman, added: “Some of these long-standing complaints seem to have gone back and forwards for some time. We need to keep the pressure up on managers to keep these delays down.”

Elouise’s school described their former student as a bright, bubbly girl who was very popular.
Her tutor David Banham said: “Elouise was always happy and she was appreciated so much in the group.”

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