Grieving family sat with pensioner’s dead body for six hours waiting for ambulance

Christopher Mizon, 87, died at his home in Herne Bay, Kent, on Saturday. (swns)
Christopher Mizon, 87, died at his home in Herne Bay, Kent, on Saturday. (SWNS)

A grieving family sat with a pensioner's dead body for more than six hours while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Christopher Mizon, 87, died at his home in Herne Bay, Kent, at 5pm on Saturday.

But the paramedics called to pronounce him dead did not arrive until 10pm, and it was not until 11.30pm that undertakers finally took his body.

Emergency call handlers told them to "open the windows" as rigor mortis set in and undertakers found it difficult to move him once they were informed of the death.

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Christopher Mizon with wife Myra. (SWNS)
Christopher Mizon with wife Myra. (SWNS)

His sister-in-law Elaine Leeks, 65, called emergency services after she realised Mizon, who had dementia and cancer, had died.

While enduring the long wait, the family huddled in the kitchen while her brother-in-law lay lifeless in his bedroom.

Leeks said she heartbreakingly told him he "didn't deserve this" as they waited for paramedics.

She said: "I first rang at 5pm, and when he arrived he told me 'I got on duty at 9pm and got the job, I put the blue lights on and came straight to you.'"

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In the four hours before the paramedic arrived, Leeks tried 999 multiple times without success.

She added: "I rang at 7pm and 9pm but I couldn't get past them asking if the patient is breathing, I had to say no, he's not, he died four hours ago."

Leeks said she told one of the call handlers: "'If you're not here by 10 I'm going to sling him over my shoulder and carry him to the ambulance station myself, that's what, a quarter of a mile away from us'.”

When the paramedic arrived, he told Leeks she must make a formal complaint because she had been waiting for so long.

British ambulance responding to an emergency in hazardous bad weather driving conditions on a UK motorway
The family waited six hours for an ambulance. (Getty)

A doctor or paramedic must officially pronounce someone dead before their body can be collected.

Age UK advises after a death at home the deceased's GP should be called but Leeks was unable to get hold of a doctor because it was the weekend and the practice was shut.

Ambulance wait times are exceptionally high this year, held up by exhausted and depleted hospital teams who are struggling to cope with high demand due to staff shortages and the backlog from COVID.

A spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with Mr Mizon’s family for their loss and for any distress caused by the timeframe taken for us to attend.

"Having recently been contacted by the family, we will look into their concerns before responding to them directly.”