Doctor told heart attack man's 50-minute ambulance wait okay because his surgery had a defibrillator

A doctor was told a 50-minute delay getting an ambulance to a man having a heart attack in his surgery was OK – because it had a defibrillator.

Nick Harpur – a GP for 30 years – said: “There is meant to be an eight-minute response but we had to make three calls. During the third we were informed we were in a good situation because we have a defibrillator.

“The implication was if the man’s heart stopped we could shock him back to life and that would be OK.

Ambulances are meant to respond to emergencies within eight minutes

“Using a defibrillator is no guarantee you will be able to restore a heartbeat. What this man needed – and didn’t get – was an ambulance to arrive quickly and take him 40 miles to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge within an hour.

“What we got was a lengthy delay which placed this man at serious risk of death or irreparable damage.”

Harpur says “using a defibrillator is no guarantee you will be able to restore a heartbeat”
(Image: Getty Images)

The patient, in his 60s, recovered. But Dr Harpur, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said: “The attitude of the ambulance service was wrong. He’s alive no thanks to them.”

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We apologise for the distress caused by the wait. We will be investigating and reporting back our findings.”



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