Bella Hellings died after an ambulance took 26 minutes to arrive
Coroner criticised 'chaotic response' of East of England Ambulance Service
Parents Amy Carter and Scott Hellings considering civil action against trust
A coroner has today condemned the 'chaotic response' of an ambulance service after a baby girl died when an emergency vehicle got lost and a second stopped for petrol.
Three-month-old Bella Hellings died at hospital after she suffered a fit and stopped breathing at her home in Thetford, Norfolk.
Paramedics took 26 minutes - more than three times longer than national targets dictate - to arrive and Norfolk Coroner's Court William Armstrong today said the delay was 'wholly indefensible'.
He concluded the baby girl died from congenital heart disease after delays in medical assistance reduced her chances of survival.
The inquest at Norfolk Coroner's Court heard how an emergency first response car struggled to find the new build house because its satnav was not up-to-date and 'there were too many blue doors'.
An ambulance also diverted to the house following the emergency call at 11.09am on 3 March was delayed because it was low on fuel and stopped at a petrol station.
Controllers failed to tell the paramedics that an air ambulance had also been dispatched - if they had known they would not have needed to refuel.
Recording a narrative verdict, Mr Armstrong criticised the delays.
He said: 'By anyone's standard this was a grave emergency - what happened here was a long, long way from the eight minute response target.
'It is a fact that the prospect of a child surviving a cardiac arrest are low. Notwithstanding that the chance of resuscitation are improved if attempted immediately.
'The delay in giving Bella the care that she needed was wholly indefensible. There was a catalogue of catastrophes and a chaotic response.'
Mr Armstrong described Bella as a 'star which will always shine' adding: 'She will never grow up, she will never lose her innocence, she will always be loved.'
After the inquest the East of England Ambulance Trust apologised for the delays and said steps had been taken to avoid future tragedies.
But Bella's parents, Amy Carter and Scott Hellings, said they were considering civil action against the trust.
They said: 'We will always believe in our hearts that Bella was let down by the health services when she was at her most vulnerable and when she needed help the most.'
Paramedic Sharon Jaggard, who was travelling in the ambulance, said that she and her colleague, Karen King, had not been told an air ambulance was also on its way.
Because of the mistake, they believed they would be required to take Bella to hospital rather than simply administer care at the scene.
She added: 'If we had known the air ambulance had been sent, we would have got straight to the property.'
The inquest heard that because of the problem with the trust's mapping system, crews were regularly forced to 'zone' to nearby areas and use local knowledge to find exact addresses.
John Martin, interim director of clinical quality at the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: 'I would like to express my condolences to the family. The trust's response to Bella was delayed for a number of factors, primarily the difficulty in locating the address due to it being a new build.
'As a result, a number of specific measures have now been put in place, and the trust has raised the problems of the delay in new buildings and developments appearing on maps and sat nav systems on a national level.
'In addition, the trust is recruiting more frontline staff and getting more ambulances on the road in order to improve our service for patients.'
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