The heartbroken parents of a six-year-old who choked to death on a grape whilst on holiday in Wales have today hit out at the beleaguered Welsh Ambulance Service.
Robert and Kathleen Lapsley from Anfield near Liverpool fought back tears as they recalled the tragic incident an exclusive interview with ITV Cymru Wales current affairs programme Wales This Week, due to be broadcast tonight.
This August, they were on a family holiday in Morfa Nefyn, situated on the picturesque Llyn Peninsula in north Wales. But their holiday turned to horror when 6-year-old Jasmine began choking on her food.
“She was sittingdown at the table, behaving and playing cards. She turned around and I could see that she was choking. I'd just given her the grapes and she was choking on a grape, I didn't doubt what it was.” explained Kathleen Lapsley.
The couple called an ambulance immediately and began attempts to dislodge the grape. Neighbours and a passing fire crew all attempted to assist, but to no avail.
The Welsh Ambulance Service have said that Community first responders arrived at the house in 16 minutes. But Jasmine’s parents claim these volunteers were powerless to help.
“It took them half an hour to get an appropriate response there. The first responders, it wouldn't have made a difference if they'd taken five minutes, ten minutes or twenty five minutes - it wasn't what Jasmine needed. They were unable to help. She needed theparamedic...And it took them half an hour to get that paramedic to us.” said Jasmine’s dad, Robert.
Jasmine was taken by helicopter to Bangor’s Ysbyty Gwynedd. When Robert and Kathleen Lapsley arrived there, they were told their daughter still had a pulse. But their hope turned to despair when medics said there was no chance of survival. Three months on, they’re finding it very difficult to carry on with their lives.
“When you open your eyes every morning, it's just there. This nightmare's just there. And we have to live with that now for the rest of our lives...She was always what we've wanted. She's not here any more.”
Chief executive of the WelshAmbulance Service Trust Tracy Myhill has only been in her post since September. She admits there’s a “cloud” over the service, which has failed to meet its target of reaching at least 65% of priority calls with 8 minutes.
She told programme makers that she “unreservedly apologised” to the Lapsleys for the “undoubted trauma” they had suffered. An inquiry is still ongoing by the service.
But the Lapsleys have hit out at the service, claiming they have had no contact whatsoever from them.
“We’ve just lost our six year-old daughter and we're having to read articles in newspapers where the Welsh Ambulance Service have commented or wholeheartedly apologised to the family. But we haven't heard from them.”
In a statement, the Welsh Ambulance Trust said, “We do not routinely make direct contact with bereaved families but will try to maintain lines of communications so when families are at a point where they wish to contact the Trust, we can and will act promptly.”
“The Trust has reported this tragic incident to the WelshGovernment as a Serious Adverse Incident . These reports require a comprehensive and detailed investigation, and the Trust endeavours to complete the investigation by mid to late November.”
Wales This Week will be broadcast tonight at 8pm on ITV Cymru Wales.