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The Daily Echo
21 Apr 2016
A MUM-OF-FIVE died after paramedics took more than an hour to reach her Bournemouth home, an inquest heard.
Two ambulances sent to Lorna Thorn’s home were diverted to other incidents before the crew from a third discovered her dead on the sofa.
Assistant Dorset Coroner Brendan Allen heard Miss Thorn, 37, made a phone call to the Bournemouth East Community Mental Health team to tell them she had taken an overdose on January 24 last year.
They immediately called for an ambulance but the first two assigned to Miss Thorn were diverted to deal with a patient with a critical head injury and another who had had a stroke.
The third, a Rapid Response Vehicle, arrived at her home an hour after the first call but then had to alert police to force entry because there was no answer at the door.
Mr Allen said he was not sure Miss Thorn had intended to take her own life because she had called the mental health services and also spoken to ambulance staff who phoned her after hearing from a mental health team crisis worker.
A Bournemouth inquest heard that Miss Thorn, who had five children and lost another to cot death, had a history of mental health issues.
Her two youngest children, aged five and seven, had been taken into care days before she took the overdose while alone at her flat in Keeble Road, Kinson.
The ambulance was provided by South Western Ambulance Service, which was recently involved in controversy over the way it runs its NHS 111 out-of-hours service.
The coroner was told calls to the service are prioritised in a number of ways. The highest priority is given to calls classified as Red 1, where a patient is unconscious and not breathing. Red 2 refers to conditions such as heart attack and strokes and both have a designated response time of eight minutes.
Miss Thorn’s case was classified as Green 2, with a suggested response time of 30 minutes, because she had spoken to someone on the phone. The classification was not changed as events unfolded despite no one being able to contact her for more than 40 minutes before police and paramedics broke into her flat.
Emma Parry of South Western Ambulance told the inquest: “Demand outweighed the resources we had.”
Mr Allen heard Miss Thorn died of an overdose of anti-depressants and recorded a narrative verdict that “Lorna Thorn took her own life but her intention was unclear because we did not have enough information from her.”
He added: “Unfortunately there was a high demand at the time that this call was made and ambulances were deployed to other emergencies.”