Ambulance bosses have apologised after staff were accused of covering up errors when patients died – but grieving families say this is “too little, too late”.
A review into allegations of failures at North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) found problems with how the trust responded to incidents, and highlighted “significant culture and behavioural issues”.
One of the cases highlighted concerned Quinn Evie Milburn-Beadle, a 17-year-old who was found hanging not far from her home in County Durham in 2018.
A NEAS paramedic declared her dead rather than trying to perform CPR. They have since been struck off, and the review found they had ignored national and local guidelines by not attempting advanced life support techniques.
“However small the probability of recovery was, [she] deserved that chance and so did her family,” the review led by retired hospital boss Dame Marianne Griffiths said.
It also noted that the trust’s “coronial processes were not followed” as vital evidence for the coroner was withheld by NEAS.
Speaking to Sky News, Quinn’s parents David and Tracey Beadle described the report as a “whitewash” and “disappointing” – and called for a public inquiry.
Ms Beadle said: “It’s too little, too late. They’ve never apologised face to face to us, if they had held their hands up and admitted their failure and lying sooner then maybe I could accept the apology, but it’s gone too far for us now.
“We know there was a very very small chance that Quinn could have been saved that night, but to know not everything was done to help her, it keeps you awake at night.
“If that paramedic had kept her alive long enough to get her to hospital we could have all held her hand and said goodbye.
“I had to tell my son his little sister died on the phone, it was horrific. All of that could have been changed if he’d just done what he should have done.”
Another case involved the death of a 62-year-old man who urgently needed oxygen, with one crew hampered by a power cut that locked the gates at the ambulance station, and another unable initially to find his key safe to get into his home.
The chief executive of North East Ambulance Service, Helen Ray, told Sky News: “As a service, we let those families down at a point in time that they needed us and I’m deeply sorry for the distress that has caused them.
“An apology isn’t enough but this is an organisation that accepts that they’ve done something wrong, they’ve learned from it and they’re doing their very best to make sure that cannot reoccur.”
When asked about rebuilding trust with the people of the North East, Ms Ray said she’s confident the service is moving in the right direction.
“I understand the public will have concerns when they read this report, but we have learned from these situations from the four families and we have taken action,” she added.
“There may have been issues where people did not follow our systems and processes, when those are brought to our attention we act on those appropriately.”
The review, which was commissioned by then health secretary Sajid Javid in 2022, also looked into how the ambulance service dealt with whistleblowing following staff members raising concerns about practice within the trust.
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Written by: Newsroom