NHS boss was driven to A&E after suspected stroke amid ambulance delay fears

The chief executive of an NHS trust has said her husband drove her to A&E after she suffered a suspected stroke because of her concern over ambulance delays.

In a series of tweets, Deborah Lee, chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust, said she had now recovered but warned that urgent action was needed from the Government.

Reflecting on the event, she said: “I can’t get one thing out of my head: What if my husband hadn’t been there and my daughter had called for an ambulance and I’d been put in the Cat 2 ‘stack’?”

Mrs Lee, who has more than 30 years of experience in the NHS, said her husband had heard her “lamenting” ambulance delays, so chose to drive her to A&E when she displayed symptoms of a stroke, rather than call 999.

Ambulance
The South West has the worst ambulance wait times in England (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Ambulance response times in England have risen to their worst levels on record, figures show.

The average response time last month for ambulances in England dealing with the most urgent incidents – defined as calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries – was nine minutes and 35 seconds.

This is up from eight minutes and 51 seconds in February and is the longest average since current records began in August 2017.

In the South West, where Mrs Lee works, the average response time for a category two call, which includes strokes, is at one hour 53 minutes – the highest in England.

The target for that category of call is 18 minutes.

Mrs Lee said that “my system is working unrelentingly” to bring response times down, but added that this was “to no great avail”.

“(There is) no silver bullet and I don’t have the answer, but government has the power to generate one”, she said.

She called on the Government to overhaul social care by improving training and pay for staff, adding that it needs to “build a sector that people want to join, stay in and feel proud to belong to”.