Dad who had to drive ill baby to hospital hits out at new 999 call system
The father of a three-month-old baby boy who drove his son to hospital himself for life-saving surgery after an ambulance was re-tasked to another 999 call has hit out at a new system for dealing with emergency calls.
The under-pressure Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) will launch the new model this coming Tuesday.
It aims to ensure that the right ambulances are sent to the most critically ill 999 patients more quickly, and was given the green light by the senior civil servant in charge of the health service here, Richard Pengelly.
The new model for handling calls received in ambulance control will identify those patients with life-threatening conditions.
Those patients will be identified based on the answers provided by the caller, who will be asked "is the patient breathing" and "is the patient awake".
Should the answer to either be "no", and it is believed the patient may have a compromised airway, a response will be despatched immediately.
For those patients whose conditions are identified as not immediately life-threatening, ambulance control staff will take time to decide on the most appropriate response to suit their need - which for the less serious calls may be the attendance of a non-emergency ambulance or paramedic advice on the phone.
However, rejecting the new Clinical Response Model, Matty Simpson (31) from east Belfast, who rushed his son Franklin to hospital after an ambulance was re-tasked to another 999 call last Friday, said the model isn't good enough if the determination is going to be made on just two questions.
He branded it "ridiculous".
His son Franklin, who has a stoma fitted due to having cystic fibrosis, became critically ill after his bowel became exposed.
His wife Chelsea phoned for an ambulance around 8.30pm and was told a crew was "five minutes away" but after a 40 minute wait for paramedics, they called 999 again.
They were informed the crew had been tasked to another emergency call, forcing the parents to drive their ill son to the Royal Victoria Hospital.
"My child was in a critical condition - he was breathing at the start but on the way over in the car he was losing consciousness and he wasn't breathing at points. That's life or death," he said.