Warning: This video contains audio which some viewers may find distressing
Akshay Patel recounted his mother's final, distressing moments, as ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan explores why ambulance wait times are at their highest on record
A son whose mother died whilst waiting almost an hour for an ambulance after making seven 999 calls, has told ITV News how he tried to save her as she screamed "I'm dying, hurry up".
Akshay Patel was woken in the middle of the night by his mum, Bina, who was struggling to breathe at their home in Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside on October 11.
He desperately tried to keep his 56-year-old mother - who had diabetes but no other long-term health conditions - alive while he repeatedly called for an ambulance as her condition deteriorated.
But by the time paramedics finally arrived at their home almost an hour later, the mother-of-two had no pulse.
Mr Patel believes his mother's death could have been avoided and is now demanding answers from North West Ambulance Service as to why an ambulance took so long.
Mr Patel, who lived with his mother following his father's death, told ITV News: "No one should go through anything like that ever in their life.
"Sometimes I think could I have done more? But what can I do? I'm not a doctor.
"I tried, I called the people that should've come and helped."
Mr Patel shared his story as ambulance waiting times in England were at their longest on record in October.
In England, the average response time for a category two call, like the one Mr Patel made, is currently 53 minutes - nearly triple the 18 minute target, according to the latest NHS data.
But in the North West, patients are waiting even longer - one hour and seven minutes.
Mr Patel explained how he first called for an ambulance at 2.30am. When it didn't arrive, he called again at 2.52am, 3.03am, 3.10am, 3.17am, 3.23am and another a few seconds later.
During two of the distressing 999 calls, heard by ITV News, Ms Patel can be heard screaming "I'm dying" as her son desperately tries to calm her and asks call handlers if he can do anything to help her.
A patient report completed by North West Ambulance Service shows an ambulance was on the way to the scene at 3.18am.
But by the paramedics arrived, Ms Patel was already dead. A report from the ambulance service says she suffered a 'suspected cardiac arrest'.
"The situation could've been different if they arrived on time," Mr Patel told ITV News.
"I genuinely believe the system is broken. I mean, we waited a time that no one in the world should have to wait for an ambulance. It's beyond a joke."
Mr Patel is now raising funds in honour of his "caring, supportive and loving" mother to donate to the British Heart Foundation.
A North West Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "We wish to pass on our deepest sympathies to Mr Patel and his family for the loss of his mother.
"We can confirm we have received an official complaint, and the investigation is ongoing. We are in contact with the family and will update them with our findings."
While the North West Ambulance Service is investigating the incident, there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the emergency service call handler.
Extracts of the 999 calls:
ITV News has heard two of the distressing 999 calls Mr Patel made on October 11. He made seven calls in total.
At the start of the second call made at 2.52am, a call handler is heard asking him if the patient [Ms Patel] is breathing, he responds: "She's struggling now. I have called an ambulance... She's struggling to breathe".
Ms Patel can be heard screaming loudly in the background and says numerous times: "I'm dying".
Mr Patel says: "She's not dying, she's just struggling to breathe."
The call handler asks: "Has she gotten worse since your last call?" Mr Patel responds "yes".
He is asked if his mother has difficulty speaking between breaths and if she has flu-like symptoms, to which he says "yes" to both.
After asking for a series of details, such as his and Ms Patel's names, their relation to one another and their address, the call handler says: "I'm organising help for you now, so stay on the line and I'll tell you exactly what to do.
"We're very busy and we aim to be with you as soon as possible, or as soon as we have an ambulance available," she adds.
"Currently, it's likely to be over an hour and a half - but that's from your first call."
"Have you got anything sooner?... Is there anything I can do in the meantime?" Mr Patel asks.
"In the meantime, just keep reassuring her okay? We will get to her as quickly as we can. It's just incredibly busy this evening," replies the handler.
"In the meantime you may be called back by a clinician, so please only call us back if the patient gets worse or if you decide to cancel...
"If she becomes less awake and vomits, quickly lay her on the side. If she gets worse in any way, call us back immediately for further instructions."
Ms Patel is heard in the background repeatedly shouting in distress "I'm dying, hurry up."
At the start of his fifth 999 call made at 3.17am, Mr Patel is heard shouting "Bina relax" as his mother screams "I'm dying".
"Is the patient breathing?" a different call handler asks.
"No. I don't know, she's lost a lot of breath," replies an audibly distressed Mr Patel.
"Tell me exactly what's happening," says the call handler.
"We logged a call half an hour ago, she can't breathe... at all," says Mr Patel. "She's not been able to breathe for the past hour."
He is asked for the same details he was asked during his second 999 call, including their names.
"Is there any way that I can help her breathing in the meantime?" asks Mr Patel.
"No, we just say watch her and look for any changes, OK?" says the handler.
An ambulance arrived 10 minutes later. Ms Patel had already died.
ITV News's Emily Morgan discusses the impact of ambulance waiting times which are currently taking triple the response time they should in England
Richard Webber, of the College of Paramedics, said ambulance wait times are having a "massive impact" on patients, adding: "And those patients are coming to harm".
An ambulance crew used to do seven or eight calls in a 12-hour shift but many are now only managing to respond to one or two calls, said Mr Webber.
"We're hearing of crews starting their shift, picking the first patient up, going to an emergency department, and staying there for 10 hours waiting to offload a patient," he said.
"So that one crew who were seeing seven or eight patients are seeing one or two."
Mr Patel's MP, Labour's Angela Rayner, has backed his plea for answers over his mother's death, said "nobody should wait that long for an emergency ambulance".
The party's deputy leader told ITV News: "We know that the NHS has been under considerable strain and we've seen staffing shortages, and then of course, the pressure that's on the social care service at the moment increases the pressure on our National Health Service.
"We need to give our NHS the resources they need."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our sympathies go out to the families of loved ones who have passed away. We are doing all we can to support our healthcare services as we head into winter and are committed to ensuring people get the treatment they need.
“We are supporting the NHS with record investment this year, including an extra £5.4 billion over the next six months to support its response to COVID-19 and £36 billion for health and care over the next three years.
“From August until the end of winter we are also investing an extra £98 million into NHS 111 to help meet increased demand and boost capacity.”