WEST Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) has explained the reasons why it was delayed in reaching an Ellesmere woman who had gone into cardiac arrest last year.

Erica Demelza Williams, 41 and of Beech Grove, died on Sunday, November 19 last year when her partner Lee Lowery and paramedics were unable to save her.

Shropshire coroner John Ellery concluded on Tuesday that she died from both natural and unnatural causes as a result of bronchial pneumonia and proscribed drug toxicity (methadone).


The inquest heard that WMAS arrived 23 minutes after the target time of seven minutes when called which Mr Lowery felt could have played some part in her lack of recovery.

However, Mr Ellery told the hearing that in his experience, the ambulance delay would not have made much difference while WMAS said that it was down to a lack of resources and high demand, among other reasons.

A spokesman said: “First, we would like to apologise to the family of Miss Williams for the delayed response and offer our condolences.

“Sadly, we see some patients wait much longer for a response than we would want as a result of long hospital handover delays.

“If ambulances are delayed handing their patient over at hospital, they are simply unable to respond to the next call, which can impact on the care of the patient in the community.

“On the day in question 51 of the 83 patients taken to Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals were delayed being handed over. 

“In total, we lost almost 120 hours of ambulance time, the equivalent of taking 10 ambulances off the road.

“There is a direct correlation between hospital handover delays and our ability to get to patients in the community quickly. 

“Hospital handover delays particularly impact rural areas as the ambulances that should be circulating in those areas are stuck at hospital. 

“In practical terms it means that ambulances will often have to travel much further to get to incidents in rural areas which inevitably means response times will be much longer than anyone would want.

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“We continue to work with our partners to find new ways to reduce delays so that our crews can respond more quickly and save more lives.”

Mr Ellery, from the pathologist report prepared by Dr Katherine Barlow at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, said he came to his conclusion because of pneumonia and the presence of the prescribed levels of methadone.

Dr Barlow, he told Mr Lowery and Miss Williams’s mother, said the medium level of prescribed drugs could have played a part in her death.