A FAMILY has been left grieving after a 40-year-old woman died on New Year’s Eve despite repeated attempts by her 15-year-old daughter to call medical assistance.
Mother-of-two Charlotte Burston knew that her health was rapidly deteriorating on Christmas morning when she began experiencing severe tingling sensations in one of her arms.
But despite repeated attempts to call urgent medical assistance, Charlotte’s daughter’s requests remained unanswered.
Eventually, as Charlotte’s condition continued to deteriorate, another family member decided to drive to Charlotte’s property in Llanteg and convey her to Withybush General Hospital by car. But shortly after commencing their journey, Charlotte Burston suffered a major heart attack from which she never gained consciousness.
On New Year’s Eve, Charlotte Burston was pronounced dead.
A post mortem concluded that the cause of her death was hypoxic brain injury, which is a lack of oxygen to the brain.
“If an ambulance had got to Charlotte within 15 minutes of Ella’s first call, she’d still be with us today,”said Vincent Laye, the father of Charlotte’s daughters.
“The pain and the grief that this has left us with is beyond explanation.
“Our girls have lost a mother who they relied on and who was their best friend, and the community around Llanteg has lost a woman who was greatly loved. This was shown earlier this week when over 150 people turned out for her funeral.
“The bottom line is that the NHS has failed in providing the care that everyone pays for and that every one of us deserves.”
Charlotte began feeling unwell at around 7am on Christmas Day.
“I called 111 at 8.19am, the call lasted 53 seconds so I hung up because it was taking too long,” explained 15-year-old Ella Laye.
“I then called 999 at 8.29am and the call lasted 41 minutes. The woman I spoke to refused to tell me how long an ambulance would take, but just said that one would be arranged.”
Realising that her mother’s condition was getting worse and worse, Ella then rang her grandfather, who lives in Clynderwen.
“He managed to drive over within around 20 minutes but by now Charlotte was drifting in and out of consciousness,” continued Vincent.
“He managed to get Charlotte into his car and began driving to Withybush. But as they approached Robeston Wathen, he heard her make a gurgling sound and from then on, Charlotte never regained consciousness.”
When they reached Withybush, Charlotte was put onto a life-support system and conveyed to Morriston Hospital. Sadly, she never recovered.
“Just because all this took place on Christmas Day, does it mean that people like Charlotte should be deprived of the medical care they deserve?” continued Vince Laye.
“Our girls have lost a mother who was with them and who cared for them 24/7. Yes, their schools are doing everything they can to help them through this and we’re visiting the Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity, but absolutely no support is being shown to us by any other authority.
“All I can do is take things hour by hour because I truly believe that this awful death could have been prevented. I really do.
“I don’t know the state of affairs in the NHS across Wales last Christmas morning but if they were severely understaffed through their own mismanagement, then someone has to be held accountable for Charlotte’s death.
“We’ve since discovered that the heart attack was caused by a blood clot that had moved to Charlotte’s heart, but we were also told that the damage this caused could have been treated with medication. What took her life was the lack of oxygen to her brain…in other words, the length of time in which she was left untreated.
“Charlotte has lost her life and the girls have lost their mother. But this isn’t about the pain that we’re currently going through…this is going to continue for years.
“It’s about every other person out there who deserves to be looked after when they are most in need.
“The NHS and the local authority have failed us in a way that’s going to change our lives for ever, and I’m refusing to allow this to be brushed aside. Somebody needs to be held accountable for what’s happened, to prevent this from happening to somebody else.”
Liam Williams, Executive Director of Quality and Nursing at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We were deeply sorry to hear about Ms Burston’s passing and would like to extend our thoughts and condolences to her family on their sad loss.
“A thorough investigation has begun, and we will be contacting Ms Burston’s family to invite them to participate in this process and share their experience, which no doubt will have been traumatic for all involved.
“On behalf of the Welsh Ambulance Service, I would once again like to extend my sympathies to Ms Burston’s family.”
Speaking about delays to patient care earlier this week, The Welsh Ambulance Service’s assistant director of operations Sonia Thompson said: “Our ambulance service is under extreme and well-documented pressure as a result of wider system pressures across the NHS.
“The service is looking at solutions as the current situation is untenable for patients and staff across health and social care.
“As an ambulance service, we’re thinking very differently about the way we deliver services in future, and we are already testing some new ways of working across Wales to understand how we can relieve some of the pressure,” she added.
The Welsh Government has said recently that despite budget pressures, it was investing in same-day emergency care, extra community beds and social care services to improve patient flow through hospitals.