A “giving and cheerful” mother-of-three has died at her home in Dagenham at the age of just 40 after waiting more than an hour and a half for an ambulance.
Suffering severe stomach pain and shortness of breath, Victoria Louise Maame Yamphet died shortly before 9am on January 10 after her frantic daughter repeatedly called 999 requesting an ambulance as a matter of urgency.
Heartbroken Emmanuella Yamphet, 18, believes her mother could still be alive had she been reached more quickly,
London Ambulance Service (LAS) says it is “deeply sorry” for the delay and is investigating its response.
Emmanuella first rang 999 for her mother, an asthmatic who was recovering from flu, around 6.10am on January 10.
“It was really bad - she was in a lot of pain,” said the teenager, who was home alone with her mum and nine-year-old sister at the time.
A call handler reportedly assured her an ambulance would arrive within “six to 10 minutes”, but when none appeared she rang back and was told it would be another 20 minutes.
“I kept calling them to find out what was going on,” she said. “Shortly after 7am they said it would be an hour.
“My mother was still in pain and her breathing was shortening.
“I felt very distressed because I didn’t know what to do to help my mum. The ambulance was taking so long.”
Around 7.15am a call handler arranged for a taxi to collect Mrs Yamphet and take her to hospital, which was expected to arrive around 7.26am.
But it did not arrive until 7.45am, by which time it was tragically too late.
Mrs Yamphet stopped breathing around 7.42am.
Panicked, Emmanuella again rang 999, begging for an ambulance as she began giving her mum CPR.
“I was crying, I’m with my mum on the floor trying to revive her,” she recalled.
Paramedics finally arrived just minutes later and took over, telling Mrs Yamphet’s children she had suffered a cardiac arrest.
They were sadly unable to save her, and Mrs Yamphet was pronounced dead around 8.52am.
Emmanuella said her mother’s body was left lying on the floor “for hours” before police arrived and requested an undertaker.
“Her body started to get cold, her fingers started to get stiff, and my little sister and I had to see my mum on the floor, dead,” she said.
Emmanuella believes her mother’s life could have been saved if she had been reached faster.
“She could have got the help that she needed if someone came on time,” she said. “It was more than an hour and 45 minutes that she was left in pain.
“It’s not fair. No-one should have to lose a loved one over the fact that they’re not being attended to that quickly.
“I felt like in mum’s case she would always be there for others - she would always help others - but when it was her turn the care wasn’t really there for her.”
Emmanuella describes her mum, a support worker of more than 20 years, as “a loving lady who loved looking after people”.
“She was very giving, cheerful, jovial, happy,” she said. “She was always putting other people first.”
A post-mortem was due to be carried out, but the cause of Mrs Yamphet’s death has not yet been confirmed.
Her death came as ambulance services across the UK are in crisis, with paramedics and ambulance workers staging ongoing strike action in a dispute over pay and staffing.
Staff at London Ambulance Service were among tens of thousands to walk out on January 11 - the day after Mrs Yamphet died - and are due to strike again on January 23.
Dr Fenella Wrigley, Chief Medical Officer for LAS, said: “We are deeply sorry for the delay in responding to Mrs Yamphet.
“We are investigating our response to this 999 call and the care provided, and as part of this thorough review, will contact Mrs Yamphet’s family to understand the circumstances of this incident.
“On behalf of London Ambulance Service, I offer my sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Mrs Yamphet.”
Ambulance services across the UK prioritise 999 calls based on risk.
National targets stipulate category one or calls, covering “life-threatening injuries and illnesses”, should be responded to in seven minutes on average.
Category two “emergency” calls should be responded to in 18 minutes on average, while category three or “urgent” calls should be responded to within 120 minutes at least 90 per cent of the time.
London Ambulance Service (LAS) declined to tell the Standard how Mrs Yamphet’s call was categorised.
Emmanuella is now raising funds to cover the costs of her mum’s funeral.
Visit the Gofundme page here.