Heart attack patient from Maidstone waited 40 minutes for ambulance to arrive

Phil Moore who suffered a heart attack waited 40 minutes for an ambulance Credit: PA/Wires

A charity has warned that more lives will be lost if extreme delays in care for heart patients continue after a man from Kent who suffered a heart attack revealed he had to wait 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said that average ambulance waits for category two calls in England, which include suspected heart attacks and strokes, rose in September to 48 minutes - almost triple the target of 18 minutes.

The charity added that there is significant variation between regions, with the fastest average response in South Central England at 38 minutes while the slowest is the East of England at 74 minutes.

One patient, Phil Moore from Maidstone in Kent, fought to stay conscious for 40 minutes while waiting for an ambulance after suffering a heart attack.

Former BHF employee, Phil, 50, recognised that he was having a heart attack and needed to ring an ambulance.

In a statement, Phil’s wife Rachel, 44, said her husband started to feel dizzy and got a heavy feeling while walking to the shops.

“For me and for Phil, the next part of the story is the most distressing,” his wife said.

“He waited a couple minutes on the phone for the 999 call to be connected to the operator. When he did get through, he told them he was having a heart attack and urgently needed an ambulance.

“Slumped in the driver’s seat of his car, the operator began asking him a series of questions to assess whether he did in fact need an ambulance. During the questions, Phil starting begging for an ambulance to come quick.

“The questions over, Phil was told an ambulance would be sent and ‘would be there shortly’.”

The hospital was only an eight-minute drive away. However, Phil would be in for a much longer wait.

The British Heart Foundation said that average ambulance waits for category two calls in England rose in September to 48 minutes. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

“But then he began drifting in and out of consciousness,” Rachel said.

“All he kept thinking was that I’d sent him a message saying I love him and I missed him and that he was going to die without being able to reply. Mustering his strength, he glanced at his phone to see how long he’d been waiting for the ambulance – it had now been 20 minutes.

“Fighting to stay conscious, he pressed re-dial on 999 and pleaded with them to get the ambulance there quickly.

“It’s now all very hazy and the operator was urging him to stay awake in that life and death tone that comes to the voice in such moments. Forty minutes after the first call, an ambulance pulls up.”

Luckily, Phil was treated in hospital and survived the heart attack.

“He is fit and healthy,” Rachel said.

“The blood clot was unexplained. His heart and arteries are all healthy and fine and we’ve been told he will never know what caused the clot.

“But it could have very easily gone another way. If the ambulance had have taken a bit longer… who knows? It physically hurts to think about this scenario.”

However, Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director at the BHF, warned that “the difference between life and death can be a matter of minutes when someone is having a heart attack or stroke,” he said.

“That’s why these figures are so shocking. We fear more people may be needlessly dying from heart conditions because they couldn’t get their lifesaving treatment on time, and it’s not even winter yet.

“NHS staff are working flat out but there aren’t enough of them to tackle the overwhelming strain on the system. Addressing workforce shortages in the health service has never been more urgently needed, and every day we delay could lead to more needless loss of life from heart conditions.”