The harrowing case of a mum who died after waiting an hour for an ambulance that came too late to save her life was put to the Prime Minister as he was quizzed over the NHS.
Boris Johnson was told by Sir Keir Starmer that Bina Patel, her family and others “deserve better” as the Labour leader questioned him over wait times and other problems within the health service.
Previously released audio calls revealed Bina Patel’s tragic final moments as her son, Akshay Patel, 28, made six desperate calls to the emergency services for help, only for the ambulance to arrive after she had died.
But what happened to Bina, and what did Sir Keir say about her case during PMQs?
What was said during PMQs?
Sir Keir warned “things are getting worse, not better” in the NHS under Mr Johnson before he highlighted the case of Bina Patel along with that of another patient who had to crowdfund for a private operation due to a two-year wait for surgery.
Speaking of Bina’s son Akshay Sir Keir said: “Last year his mother woke up unable to breathe. Akshay called 999 six times. In his last call he said: ‘I rang an hour ago for an ambulance as she had difficulty breathing, and now she’s dead.’”
Sir Keir pressed Mr Johnson to admit these people “deserve better than a wanting and inadequate Government utterly unable to improve our NHS”.
In response Boris Johnson said he believed all MPs had sympathy with the cases, adding: “I share their feelings, but when you look at what this Government is doing, we are making colossal investments in our NHS, we’re cutting waiting times, we’re raising standards, we’re paying nurses more, we’re supporting our fantastic NHS, and by the way, (Sir Keir) continually came to the House and said we had the worst Covid record in Europe – turned out to be completely untrue, he still hasn’t retracted it.”
What happened to Bina?
Akshay is first heard telling ambulance call handlers his 56-year-old mum is “struggling” to breath after she woke up screaming his name in the early hours of the morning.
In calls that follow, he describes how her situation is “critical” only to be told that he may have to wait “one-and-a-half hours” for an ambulance as the service is “busy”.
He later says his mum’s mouth has “gone all-white” and pleads for immediate assistance but emergency service personnel just tell him that “help” is on its way.
After Bina collapses and becomes unresponsive, her heartbroken son can be heard venting his fury that an ambulance didn’t arrive in time to save her.
He tells call handlers: “I rang an hour ago for an ambulance as she had difficulty breathing, and now she’s dead. She’s f*cking dead.
“My mum’s dead, thank you for the ambulance. Appreciate it.”
Akshay, who had shared a home with his mum in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancashire, said he realised she was unwell when she shouted for him at 2:15am on 11 October, last year.
He said: “Obviously I woke up straight away, and I could see her having difficulty with her breathing. I ran downstairs, got her a glass of water and called ‘999’.”
When Akshay spoke to call handlers, he said his mother was “finding it difficult to breathe” and had “flu like symptoms”, thinking an ambulance would be sent quickly.
How long did the family wait for an ambulance?
After 20 minutes passed without any sign of the emergency services, he called again only to be informed that the wait time might be “one and a half hours.”
In the background of his subsequent calls to the emergency services, his mum can be heard screaming out: “Hurry up, I’m dying!”
In later conversations with emergency call handlers, Akshay tells them his mum’s condition is “getting critical”.
At one point he says: “The patient’s mouth has gone all white, she’s probably going to die” but is told the ambulance service is “extremely busy” and experiencing “delays.”
Over the phone, he’s heard saying: “We logged a call half an hour ago. She can’t breathe at all.”
“She’s not been able to breathe for the past hour. She’s struggling.”
When paramedics finally arrived at 3:27am, almost an hour after Akshay’s initial call, they tried to revive Bina, but their attempts sadly failed.
What has Akshay said?
Recalling the events of that terrible night, he said: “I looked at my mum, and I couldn’t tell her, “Mum, it’s going to be an hour and a half.”
“I tried my best to stand her up, to try and get her downstairs and into a car to take her to the hospital.
“She couldn’t stand up. She was falling back on the bed to the point where I was holding her upright to make sure she didn’t fall again.
“She was just panicking and panicking for help.”
He added: “The only way I can describe it is, imagine someone holding you underwater. There’s not much you can do.”
His mum had first suffered from a blockage in her heart, which caused a stroke and then a heart attack, a horrific series of events which Akshay had to watch.
He said: “I witnessed the blockage when she was screaming and shouting.
“I witnessed the stroke when she was panicking, and I witnessed the heart attack when she fell on the floor.
“No one in the world should witness that.”
Akshay previously said he hoped to meet with Health Secretary Sajid Javid to discuss how changes to the NHS could save more lives in the future.
He said: “The [ambulance] crew that came, the people that work for the organisation, they do an amazing job.
“But the overall structure, the way it’s been set up, and the way the money kind of trickles down is wrong.
He added: “Once we were clapping for the NHS throughout Covid. Now, me personally, can I clap for it? Can I trust them? No, I can’t.”