MP believes 'catalogue of failures' caused Peterborough baby's death as Parliament hears 100 deaths associated with delayed ambulance responses

The MP for Peterborough says a "catalogue of failures" appears to be behind the death of a baby girl during a House of Commons debate on the city's ambulance service.

Fiona Onasanya was speaking during a debate on the East of England Ambulance Service where another MP said there were potentially 100 patient deaths related to slow response times.

Fiona Onasanya

Fiona Onasanya

Ms Onasanya highlighted the case of Peterborough's Darcey Maddison, telling the Commons: "Simon and Michelle came to see me about this very issue. Their 999 call was downgraded and, as an unintended consequence, they lost their baby girl, Darcey, in what appears to be a catalogue of failures in the interaction between the ambulance trust and the hospital."

Ms Onasanya did not specify which hospital she was referring to.

In response, health minister Steve Barclay - who is also the MP for North East Cambridgeshire - said he was happy to meet the Labour MP to discuss the case further.

Mr Barclay added that he was assured that, where there were serious delays in response times, the ambulance service had identified all potential causes.

He stated: "Following an initial investigation, it is examining 22 such cases through the serious incident procedure. That will ensure that individual cases are properly investigated."

An action plan for the ambulance service was revealed today (Friday, February 2) which included deploying additional staff and vehicles between now and Easter.

The plan was unveiled by the NHS after it held a 'risk summit' following whistleblower claims - revealed by Norwich South MP Clive Lewis - that 20 people had died over a 12 day period due to ambulances arriving late.

During today's debate in Parliament, Lib Dem Norman Lamb told the Commons: "I have seen a list of 40 cases of potential patient harm associated with delays in response times, including 19 cases where patients lost their lives."

He later added: "Beyond the list of 40 cases, I understand that a further 120 incidents of potential patient harm and a potential 81 patient deaths have been associated with delays over this period of time."

Mr Lamb, who called the debate, began by saying: "I want to start by making it clear that I recognise absolutely that there is intolerable pressure generally across the emergency care system, and there are serious issues that have to be addressed, particularly around handover delays.

He added: "I also want to place on record my understanding that we have incredibly committed clinical staff in this trust, and I want to express my gratitude to them; they are often working under intense strain, frequently dealing with extraordinarily distressing and sensitive personal situations, and they do so admirably."

The Peterborough Telegraph reported yesterday (Thursday, February 1) on pressures in the local health service, with photos showing numerous ambulances waiting outside Peterborough City Hospital.

More than 800 hours were lost by the ambulance service in December from handing over patients at the hospital, while the hospital’s chief operating officer said it had been under “unprecedented strain” this winter.

Following the announcement of today's action plan, the ambulance service (EEAST) said: “EEAST and its NHS system partners will work together on actions to further improve joint plans for current and future services.

“The summit identified a number of actions that were needed to secure greater resilience for regional ambulance services. Some of these actions are for EEAST and some actions are for the wider NHS.

“We welcome the feedback from this summit and will be working closely with partners and staff to meet the actions. The trust always wants to learn how it can improve the service we provide to patients.

“Each of the potentially serious incidents recorded while the trust was experiencing high levels of demand are being investigated internally.

“These will also be thoroughly and independently reviewed to ascertain whether patients were harmed. This will be concluded by Easter.

“The families concerned will be the first to be informed of the findings of their loved one’s cases.

“In the interests of patient safety and to ensure the rigour of the review, the list of potentially serious incidents highlighted by MPs will be shared with us and included in the review.”


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