Would this situation be considered negligence on the part of the emergency services? | Lawhive - Solicitors & Lawyers Online
Would this situation be considered negligence on the part of the emergency services?
My father in law died 3 days ago in England. While he was old, it was pretty unexpected. They still haven't released the reason why he died, but they're pretty sure it was from his diabetes and changing medicine. The thing though is that he called 999 and an ambulance never came. When his friend hadn't heard from him in 2 days, he went over with his son and they ended up kicking in his door to find him dead on the floor. They called an ambulance. 7 hours later, an ambulance still hadn't arrived. Another 2 hours and police showed up. They sat with his dead body for 9 hours. They went to get all of his things today because they live in Wales and another lock down is coming soon and they didn't know when they'd get another chance to. My brother in law went through his phone and my FIL had called 999. And obviously, an ambulance never came. In two days, no emergency sector came to check on a 80yo man who called 999. What do we do here? Where do we even begin? Would this even be considered negligence? He had an android phone and Google has it set in the UK that if you dial 999, it automatically gives them your location so even if he was unable to say where he was, there still isn't a reason to not show up.

Andrea Laughlin

9th September 2021



Top Answer
You should contact PALS, the patient advice liaison service, for the relevant ambulance trust. They should be able to provide information about your rights in this situation and help you access the complaints procedure.

Melissa Bowdle

17th January 2022



I'm sorry for your loss. That's not how the 999 system works - just because someone calls 999 does not in and of itself mean that emergency services will be deployed. They would almost certainly not have had any way of knowing his circumstances. They also would not have had his address from the location obtained via the android phone.

Gerard Chilson

17th January 2022



(Note this is just a opinion based on case law) On the face of it, it looks like at the bare minimum you’d want to claim negligence however I doubt you would win this claim as one of the key rules set out in Caparo v Dickman is the fair, just and reasonable clause. In a nutshell this exempts most civil emergency services from prosecution due to the idea that they can’t be expected to save them all. Regardless if you feel you have a case consult your chosen solicitor for the most comprehensive advice.

Alice Bigley

17th January 2022



Can you obtain a recording of the call?

Lori Mooneyham

17th January 2022



You need to speak to PALS (Patient Advice Liason Service) for your local ambulance Trust. When I was dangerously misdiagnosed in hospital last year that's who we spoke to and they were really helpful. We didn't want anyone punished, just for lessons to be learned from the incident.

Arlette Perez

17th January 2022



Do you know that he contacted the ambulance service via 999 or simply that he dialled 999? It could be that he managed to get through and ask for ambulance but that through triage, no response was required and he was given advice or referred to another service. Alternatively, perhaps he did not manage to request an ambulance and either BT did nothing further with the call or it was put through to the Police. The 999 service receiving his accurate location through AML via Android is possible. Most services but not all support this now but not all. It is reliant on the phone having an accurate location at a the time so in itself is not an absolute guarantee. The lack of ambulance attendance after finding him deceased is likely based on the information given at the time. If somebody is not obviously dead and death was very recent, an ambulance can attend to deliver life support. If however the description (through questioning), is that they were obviously dead, then there is no cause for them to attend and it would be just for the Police to attend (there can be some local variation on this). -- As for where to begin, it seems like the best course of action to find out more would be for his son to contact the ambulance service and establish what happened / raise his concerns. This will at least provide detail about what was done or identify that the first call never reached the ambulance service. Complaints for the three services involved can be raised via the details below: BT for the 999 call: https://my.bt.com/s/apps/appscomplaints/index.html#/complaint/raise The ambulance service for their handling of the situation. Find your local ambulance service and write to their Patient Experience Team either via letter or email. The Police complaints team - either via 101, online or via letter.

Leon Mcdonald

17th January 2022



> My brother in law went through his phone and my FIL had called 999. And obviously, an ambulance never came. How do you know that he asked for a ambulance? What was said on the call? Just because he rang 999 doesn’t mean that an ambulance is bound to be dispatched.

Jennie Cook

17th January 2022



You need to contact PALS or use the internal complaints system for the ambulance service. If they’d answered to a line and heard nothing on the other end it may have been put down as a misdial or a hoax call. They also get a lot of calls from people who don’t want an ambulance and don’t know you can call 111 for medical advice. Our 111 service send us to all sorts of jobs that have absolutely no need for an ambulance or have even outright stated they don’t want an ambulance, so until a complaint is raised for the call and the call is listened back to you won’t find out why a truck wasn’t sent. There’s a good chance the contact he made was unintelligible, but because he was spoken to they can assess he’s breathing ok, and his circulation is working that it’s gone down as a welfare check, ambulance services get hundreds of welfare checks per day, but these a low category calls and ambulance services are frankly overwhelmed with calls that are triaged as high category even though physically they’re not, because then symptoms described are very similar to what you’d hear in a life threatening emergency (chest pain, weakness in limbs etc). Police have access to location tracking, generally speaking ambulance services do not, it has to go through police first. We use w3w at work and that’s the best we’ve got

Leona Cobb

17th January 2022

In addition to what others have said about PALS, which is often great but sometimes not entirely unbiased, it might be constructive to contact your local Healthwatch, who might want to look into it if they feel there may be a serious issue of concern. Unlike PALS, they are independent, but also unlike PALS their role isn't specifically to help you, but to monitor local health service and social care providers, reporting concerns back to the providers and the CQC etc. (NAL.)

Linda Stephens

17th January 2022

1 upvote

This page contains user-generated content and is provided for general informational use only. Unless otherwise indicated, answers are provided by non-qualified (NQ) lay members of the public. Please read our Terms for more information.

If you have feedback on this question please contact support@lawhive.co.uk

Get legal help the hassle-free way

We have expert solicitors ready to resolve any type of legal issue in the UK.

Remove the uncertainty and hassle by letting our solicitors do the heavy lifting for you.

Get Legal Help

Takes less than 5 mins