Yate woman's last words to husband were 'the paramedics are here' after 11-hour ambulance wait

The family of a Yate man who died as paramedics walked through the door of his home after waiting 11 hours for an ambulance say they are unable to grieve.

Steve Iles was 63 when he died after a hernia caused issues with his small bowel, leading to further problems with the blood supply to his heart.

His wife of 45 years Jean and their daughter Claire made numerous calls to 999 and 111 explaining his condition but by the time paramedics arrived at their home, 11 hours later, it was too late.

Jean says it has been "impossible" for her to grieve, with her biggest regret being that her last words to her husband were "the paramedics are here" rather than "I love you".

The family are now calling for more answers from South Western Ambulance Service about the night of Steven's death.

Steve and Jean on their wedding day.

South Western Ambulance Service sent a letter to the family saying it had conducted a formal investigation into the incident.

In the letter, it said its response to Steven's incident did not meet its own standards, further clarifying a system-wide investigation into the delays would be taking place.

Audio from the multiple 999 calls, which the family have shared with ITV News, detail exactly how the situation unfolded. During the calls, you can hear Steve's family regularly tell the 999 call handlers that he is experiencing difficulty breathing.

  • Listen to the 999 calls made by desperate family on night of man's death

Each time the family called to tell handlers of Steven's worsening condition, they were told the next available resource in the area would be directed to them.

It is not until the final call, when Claire said paramedics needed to get to their home within minutes, that the situation was upgraded to a category 2 emergency.

"We can't grieve at the moment," Claire said. "They have apologised and sent their condolences, but they have taken no responsibility for my father's death.

"When you ring 999 you don't expect to be on hold with a recorded message. The last memories I have are horrendous, I re-live it often and question myself and what I could have done.

"To think it got to the stage where he didn't recognise me at the end is absolutely heartbreaking. We just feel kind of cheated that we have lost him.

Steve Iles passed away on March 19.

"It has made us feel quite angry, how they can just be quite flippant and make excuses for a devastating mistake they have made."

Shortly after the incident, South Western Ambulance Service Trust passed on their condolences to the family. The trust has now blamed bed-blocking at the region's hospitals for issues with waiting times.

Deputy director of clinical care at the ambulance service Adrian South said: “On behalf of the Trust, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Iles.

“Mr Iles did not receive the timely care that he required, and which all of us working in the ambulance service strive every day to provide.

“Too many patients continue to wait far too long to be transferred from ambulances waiting outside emergency departments, because of the large number of hospital beds currently occupied by patients who are waiting for support from social care. This, unfortunately, means that sometimes there are not enough ambulances available to attend new 999 calls.

“We are working with partners across local health and social care systems to improve this situation.”

The number of hours that ambulances are waiting to handover patients has gone up

The family though have now contacted the Ombudsman and are going through the process of appealing.

Jean Iles, Steve's widow, said that despite the tough process they will not stop pushing for clarity on the ambulance service's actions on that day.

She said: "We will not stop, we are going to take it further because something has to be done to prevent any other family from going through what we are having to go through.

"With me, it is going round and round in my head all the time. It is obviously stopping me from being able to move on. I just cannot grieve, it is impossible at the moment.

"Instead of saying the paramedics are here, I wish I would have turned around and told him I loved him. That is my biggest regret.

"It just takes everything away and for every big event from now on I will be there on my own. It hurts tremendously."