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Ambulance service was ‘too busy’ to take dying cancer patient from Ilford to hospital

PUBLISHED: 12:32 28 November 2012 | UPDATED: 08:43 30 November 2012

Irene and Stephen Silverne

Irene and Stephen Silverne

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A cancer patient who was having problems breathing was unable to get an ambulance to take him to hospital two days before he died.

Darren Silverne, 46, who was living with his parents Irene, 72, and Stephen, 74, in Park Avenue, Ilford, waited more than an hour before the couple decided to drive him to King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes.

And although his mum and dad do not believe the delay contributed to his death from bronchial pneumonia related to his condition, they have this week questioned why they could not get help.

Irene said: “It’s not good enough. What if someone has a heart attack? This is serious, we weren’t wasting people’s time.”

Darren, who had kidney and lung cancer, developed breathing difficulties early in the afternoon of November 10.

When his condition did not improve, Irene called for an ambulance at 7pm but was told none could come to their home. She then received another call from the London Ambulance Service (LAS) to apologise for no ambulances being available.

Darren died on November 12.

An LAS spokesman said: “We would like to offer our condolences to Mrs Silverne and are very sorry for any distress caused to her and her family.

“We were extremely busy on [November 10] and unfortunately did not have an ambulance available to immediately send to her son.”

Darren, who worked in publishing in the City, became ill 10 months ago. He had chemotherapy treatment and had a kidney removed in an operation at King George Hospital.

Irene said: “I did discuss [with the LAS] all my son’s problems. There was nothing doing. My son didn’t feel he could get down to the car, but we had no choice.”

LAS’s control room, which takes calls across the capital, received 4,711 emergency calls on November 10, compared to 4,239 on November 3 and 3,978 on October 27.

And Redbridge has seen an increase in the number of serious or life-threatening incidents (category A calls).

From April to November, paramedics tended to 8,950 patients compared to 7,800 in the same period last year.

All other calls, including Darren’s, receive a category C rating.

An LAS spokesman said: “Calls are prioritised in our control room to enable us to send help to those with the most immediately life-threatening illnesses and injuries first.”


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