An elderly woman who drove herself to A&E after being told she faced an eight hour wait for an ambulance collapsed and died shortly after arriving at hospital.

The woman, named in Parliament as Jean, drove herself to Eastbourne District General Hospital and paid for parking before collapsing an hour later.

The tragic case comes as NHS hospitals have been suffering from “dangerously long waiting times”, with the issue brought up at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, March 8.

In PMQs, Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey said: “When Jean rang 999, she was told it would take at least eight hours for an ambulance to arrive.

“So she got in her car and drove herself to Eastbourne District General Hospital. She paid for parking, and made it to the entrance to A and E – where she collapsed. Jean died an hour later.

“No one should lose their mother or their grandmother like that.”

Hospitals have been plagued by crowded corridors and long ambulance wait times in recent months, with the average wait around an hour and a half in December 2022.

In February, response times were lowered to around half an hour.


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James MacCleary, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Lewes, added: “My thoughts are with Jean’s family. This is a heartbreaking situation and sadly I have heard many other cases of this across Sussex and the South East.

“Our local ambulance service is at a crisis point. Years of neglect and underinvestment in our health services has led to people losing their lives because of dangerously long waiting times.”

The Argus: Eastbourne district general hospitalEastbourne district general hospital (Image: NQ Staff)

A spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance Service told the BBC: "Our thoughts are with this patient's family and we would invite them or a representative to contact us so we can look further into the circumstances.

"We are working hard to respond to everyone who needs us as quickly as possible, prioritising those in a life-threatening condition, and recognise the need to improve our response times."

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, who run Eastbourne District General Hospital, were also approached for comment.