A Selston widow has described how her dying husband was left “in agony” from a stroke after she was told it would take “up to an hour” to get an ambulance.
Michelle Lane now has post-traumatic stress disorder and said she gets “flashbacks” of husband Tony screaming in pain as her nephew drove them to hospital.
Tony, aged 54, died after eventually being transferred to a second hospital.
East Midlands Ambulance Service said it was “experiencing large numbers of emergencies at that time”, suggesting it could take “60 minutes” for an ambulance.
It is now carrying out a trial in which patients who have suffered strokes are treated as a higher priority, but this is unrelated to Tony’s death.
Michelle said: “All I wanted was an ambulance.
“They couldn’t have saved him but he wouldn’t have died in absolute agony.
“My nephew drove the car and I held Tony in my arms.
“I’ve been diagnosed with post-traumatic disorder because of it, because I can’t get it out of my head.”
The couple were in Somercotes, Derbyshire, when Tony became ill on September 2.
Michelle told the BBC she called 999 and told the operator: “I need an ambulance please, I think my husband had a stroke. He’s been sick and all his face has slumped.”
She was then told the ambulance could take “up to 60 minutes” to arrive, so she decided to make her own way to King’s Mill Hospital, Sutton, about eight miles away.
She said: “It was horrendous, his whole personality changed.
“He was growling like a wild animal. His eyes were rolled to the back of his head.”
Mr Lane had a scan which showed his stroke had been caused by bleeding to his brain, caused in turn by a brain aneurysm.
He was transferred to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, where he suffered a second bleed on the brain during an operation in the early hours of September 3.
His life support machine was turned off later that day.
Ben Holdaway, EMAS director, said: “The call had been recorded as a potentially serious condition.
“However, we were experiencing a very large number of emergencies at that time.
“The caller was informed that we aimed to arrive within 60 minutes, or as soon as the next ambulance was available.
“Representatives from EMAS have been in contact with Mrs Lane and have visited her at home to offer our sincere condolences.”