A woman from Brierfield says she has questions surrounding her dad’s death, after his ambulance was delayed due to a technical issue.

John Hacking died aged 72 after suffering a cardiac arrest.

According to his daughter Christine Jackson, and letters from the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) that have been seen by the Lancashire Telegraph, the ambulance was delayed in getting to John due to a technological issue related to a new navigation system.

The issues meant paramedics struggled to locate John at his address on Humphrey Street. The delay was said to be around eight minutes.

The ambulance service has apologised and said staff have been given guidance about the new navigation system to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Christine, 43, said: “I feel that my story may explain how some ambulances may be getting lost and delayed.

“I have received letters and emails from NWAS stating that there was an issue getting to dad on time after his 999 call.”

While the ambulance service thought it was unlikely that John would survive even if the delay had not occurred, Christine has been left to wonder if her dad could have lived if the ambulance had been on time.

John called an ambulance on January 26, at around 4.05pm. The ambulance arrived at 4.26pm.

Christine said: “My dad wasn’t in cardiac arrest when he made the 999 call as he was able to confirm his exact location, nature of the call, age, sex.

“If the ambulance had gone straight to his home address then [he may not have] gone into cardiac arrest and may have been saved.

Lancashire Telegraph: John HackingJohn Hacking (Image: Christine Jackson)

“My dad was found by paramedics sitting on his sofa in cardiac arrest.”

According to a letter sent to Christine, there had been confusion over the exact location of John and paramedics were looking for a person that had collapsed outside.

The letter outlined a recent change to both the satellite navigation screens and also the mobile data screens (MDTs) in ambulances.

It is thought that the crew arrived "near" John’s location and that there was some confusion over his precise location.

Ambulance crews were said to have made enquiries to a local business to see if anyone had collapsed in the area. After enquiries were unsuccessful crews reportedly enquired via radio to clarify John’s exact location.

Christine said: “In my dad's case the crew arrived 200 metres away from his property… they thought they would be dealing with a collapse outside.

“They couldn't locate my dad as he was at home, so instead of checking with the control centre, they went to local businesses' in the area to see if they had heard of a collapse.”

Resuscitation was undertaken for 52 minutes with a senior paramedic team leader in attendance as the clinical lead.

In the letter addressed to Christine, the ambulance service said they do not believe it is likely that John would have survived even if the ambulance had arrived sooner. 

Christine, however, still has questions about this.

She said: “There is always a chance with resuscitation that the person will survive otherwise why do we bother? I believe that my dad did have a chance, but the delay would have impacted any chance of a successful resuscitation.

“I wonder if my dad would still be alive if this technology had not been installed this year.”

According to the letter sent to Christine, it is thought that the police and coroner were not notified of the ambulance delay.

She said: “Because the crew didn’t alert police or the coroner at any stage either I felt it my duty to inform the coroner, which I did by email recently."

Christine, who was only informed of the ambulance delay after receiving a letter, wants this to be a learning opportunity for the NWAS and hopes that an error like this does not happen again.

She said: “I feel so sad about the circumstances around dad’s death, receiving the first letter from NWAS came as such a shock as up until the end of February I had thought that there had been no issues.

“I was truly devastated to learn that the delay was a technical one and at the thought of my dad sitting there alone on his sofa waiting for the ambulance while deteriorating into an unconscious state [is terrible].

“I understand changes will be made and people will learn from this, I hope that there is a solution to this technical issue and that this doesn’t happen again.

“I hope that by sharing my story lives may be saved."

Christine said her dad will be remembered fondly.

She said: “Dad was very well loved by all who met him, he had so many friends he loved to sing on the karaoke, loved fishing and horse racing.

“He was a loving, caring man, dad and grandad with a wicked sense of humour, we all miss him so much, life won't be the same without 'Big John' as he is known to his friends.”

A North West Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We again would like to extend our deepest sympathy to John’s family at this incredibly difficult time, and we are sorry for what happened.

“After a member of staff raised an issue concerning the incident, we carried out a thorough internal investigation. We passed these details on to the family.

"Further guidance about the new navigation system has been issued to ambulance and control room staff to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“We realise this will be of little consolation to John’s family, but we have made significant progress in improving response times over the last 18 months by increasing staff and ambulance numbers.

“We have reduced the number of patients experiencing long waits and are one of the best-performing trusts in the country. We continue to work with our health care partners to ease pressures in the system.”

According to data, obtained by the Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information (FOI), target response times for ambulances are often missed in East Lancashire.

Category 1 calls, where 999 is dialed for life-threatening illnesses or injuries, should be responded to in a target of seven minutes.

In 2023, East Lancashire CCG left patients waiting for an average of nine minutes 15 seconds, one minute 30 seconds slower than in 2019.

Category 2 calls, where patients are at risk of rapidly deteriorating in cases such as suspected strokes and heart attacks, were also responded to in poor timing within East Lancashire.

Category 2 calls require ambulances to attend within 18 minutes.

In 2023, the average wait time for people across East Lancashire was 25 minutes and 32 seconds. This is a one-minute improvement on 2019’s figures and a 16-minute and seven-second improvement on 2022’s figures.