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Pembrokeshire West Wales

Investigation launched following Herald report on ‘ambulance delay’ death

THE WELSH AMBULANCE SERVICE has confirmed to this newspaper that it has launched a formal investigation following the death of 40-year-old Charlotte Burston on New Year’s Eve, amid allegations of delayed emergency response.

Charlotte, a mother of two from Llanteg, succumbed to a hypoxic brain injury after her family’s repeated attempts to secure an ambulance were unsuccessful.

Liam Williams, the Executive Director of Quality and Nursing at the Welsh Ambulance Service, expressed his deep regret over the incident. “We were deeply sorry to hear about Ms Burston’s passing and extend our heartfelt thoughts and condolences to her family during this difficult time. We have initiated a thorough investigation and are in direct communication with Ms Burston’s family to address their concerns and any questions they might have,” Williams stated.

The sequence of events leading to Ms. Burston’s tragic death began on Christmas morning when she experienced severe tingling sensations in one arm.

Despite her daughter Ella’s immediate attempts to call for medical help, the family claims their pleas were not answered in time. Ultimately, a relative attempted to transport Charlotte to Withybush General Hospital by car, during which she suffered a major heart attack and never regained consciousness.

Vincent Laye, father to Charlotte’s daughters, has vocally criticised the NHS for what he perceives as a failure to deliver adequate care. “Had an ambulance arrived within 15 minutes of the first emergency call, Charlotte would likely still be alive,” Laye asserted. He highlighted the emotional toll on their family and the broader community, evidenced by the large turnout at Ms. Burston’s funeral.

The case has raised significant concerns about the responsiveness of emergency services, especially during holiday periods, and has sparked a broader debate on the state of the NHS and the pressures it faces. Sonia Thompson, Assistant Director of Operations at the Welsh Ambulance Service, acknowledged the critical stress on the service and the health system overall, emphasising ongoing efforts to innovate and improve service delivery amidst these challenges.

The Welsh Government has responded to the crisis by committing to investments in emergency care, additional community beds, and social care services, aiming to alleviate hospital patient flow issues.

This investigation comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of the NHS and its ability to respond to emergencies, with the Burston family’s ordeal highlighting the devastating consequences of alleged systemic failures.