Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Care Home Called 999 Five Times to Help OAP

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Care Home Called 999 Five Times to Help OAP

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Hill Reporter

ACARE home resident who had eaten chlorine tablets had to wait more than three hours for an ambulance, an inquest has heard.

The overstretched North East Ambulance service was called five times before crews were sent to the Balmoral Court, in Byker.

Diabetic dementia patient Joe Serginson, 85, grabbed a tub from a cleaner's trolley and swallowed the dissoluble disinfectant tablets which looked like mints as staff dealt with a mess.

A senior carer told the inquest how she screamed and forced her fingers into his mouth to try to retrieve the chlorine tablets before dialling 999 on August 1 last year. Staff called five times for an ambulance and a series of crews were tasked to attend the home but were quickly diverted to other cases.

It was only at 5.12pm, more than three hours after the first 999 call was made that a crew attended and he was taken to the city's Royal Victoria Infirmary, arriving just before 6pm.

Medics decided the prognosis was too bad for Mr Serginson to recover from the effects of the corrosive chemical and he was kept comfortable in hospital before he died on August 4. Pathologist Peter Cooper carried out a post-mortem examination and concluded Mr Serginson died from respiratory failure having ingested chlorine tablets.

Newcastle assistant coroner Karin Welsh was told how the ambulance service had reached the stage of "clinical escalation" earlier that day, meaning there were too many jobs for the crews available.

NEAS complaints investigator Ruth Jackson told the hearing the situation happened on a daily basis and that it was to be addressed by more staff being recruited.

Cleaner Jamie Forbes said she had got her trolley out of a locked cupboard to tidy a mess in a corridor and the tub of chlorine tablets was on its top shelf. They were round and white, and looked like extra strong mints, she said.

There were around 16 male residents staying on the top floor of the home, the inquest heard. …

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