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Woman who had to wait outside A&E in ambulance warns emergency care is 'like Russian roulette'

Leah (left) says her mum Sue (right) was one the lucky ones. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The daughter of a woman who was forced to wait outside a hospital in Essex in an ambulance while she was suffering from sepsis, has warned delays in handing patients over to A&E could be putting lives at risk.

Leah Butler-Smith filmed a video while she was in the queue at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford back in January.

Her mum Sue was eventually seen by doctors five hours after she arrived.

It was initially thought she had suffered a stroke, but tests later established she had sepsis.

Sue survived, but a new report from the GMB union has claimed that 123 patients have died as a result of delays since 2014.

Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"God forbid if anybody else ever needs emergency care, it's like Russian roulette," Leah told ITV News.

"If on that day it just happens to be like it was back then, how long do you wait and what sort of serious condition to have to have to actually get jumping up the queue? It's frightening."

In a statement at the time, a Broomfield Hospital spokesperson said the trust was facing a "very high demand" on their services and added that the hospital is "continuing to work extremely hard to provide high quality, safe patient care while under continued pressure."

According to figures obtained by the GMB union, in addition to the 123 deaths, a further 279 patients have been severely harmed due to delays accessing care - although the Department of Health strongly disputes those findings.

"To attribute these deaths to ambulance patient handover delays is inaccurate - handover delays are not even part of the incident category that GMB are referring to," A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said.

"As NHSI (NHS Improvement) has made clear, any increase in reported incidents does not necessarily mean patient safety is declining; in fact it's an indication that NHS staff are more aware of safety issues and becoming better at reporting them as part of an open and transparent NHS culture."

The GMB union says NHS staff are overworked and underpaid. Credit: PA

The GMB union has called on the government to invest more money in the NHS.

“This is a terrible indictment of the lack of investment in the NHS," Kevin Brandstatter, GMB National Officer, said.

“Staff are overworked, underpaid and there are almost 100,000 vacancies throughout the NHS.

“This is a national scandal and the Government is solely to blame. Theresa May and her cabinet should call an early election so that the people can pass judgement.”