- Leslie Coombs, 89, collapsed in his sheltered accommodation room
- Staff made paramedics wait 26 minutes while they fetched a key
- Mr Coombs was eventually taken to hospital, but later died of a heart attack By LUCY CROSSLEY
Paramedics were prevented from tending to a stroke victim after care home managers refused to let them enter his room because it breached company policy.
Leslie Coombs who was a mechanic in WWII collapsed while he was on the phone to insurers The AA after he called them about repairs to his car.
The AA operator quickly dialled 999 and paramedics rushed to the 89-year-old's room at the Jubilee Court sheltered housing complex in Strelley, near Nottingham.
However, when the ambulance crew arrived, staff would not let them enter the room, and they were made to wait for 26 minutes until a warden arrived with a spare key.
A telephone operator also refused to give paramedics the code for a wall-mounted safe which contained a master key because it was 'against company policy'.
Frightened Mr Coombs was screaming for help through the letter box, while paramedics were forced to wait on the other side of the door.
When a warden finally arrived with a master key, paramedics entered the room and rushed Mr Coombs, who served as an RAF mechanic in Singapore during World War Two, to hospital where he died of a heart attack nine days later.
His family have accused the managers of the sheltered housing complex, run by Places for People, of endangering the lives of residents.
His daughter Glenis Riley, 66, is considering taking legal action against Nottingham City Homes, which runs the out-of-hours service for Places for People.
'My father was fit and healthy for his age but I strongly believe the stress of being left on the floor in his room while paramedics were outside caused his death,' said Mrs Riley, a retired community care worker.
'The operator called 999 and my father tried to get to the front door so he could open it for the paramedics.
'He always locked himself in because there had been a few burglaries in the area but he was always confident if he did collapse someone would help because they kept a master key on the premises at all times.
Restricted: Out of hours staff at Jubilee Court refused to give paramedics the code to access a master key. Eventually Mr Coombs was taken to hospital, but later died of a heart attack
'When the paramedics did arrive they were talking to my dad through the letter box.
'He was shouting ‘For God’s sake help me’ but they had to explain they had to wait.
'One of the paramedics called the operator of the complex to ask for the code to the key safe by the entrance but they wouldn’t give it to him.
'Apparently the operator said they could not be sure it really was the paramedic and it was therefore against company policy to hand the code out to them.
Anger: Mr Coombs's daughter, Glenis Riley said she was 'disgusted' at the treatment her father received
'Part of me thinks the paramedics should have kicked the door down but they were in a very difficult position.
'You expect when your dad is in a housing complex they will make sure there is a fast way of getting into his room if he is in trouble but my dad was left stranded on the floor because of these jobsworths.'
Mr Coombs, who had seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren moved into the complex in 1999 after his wife Florence died of cancer aged 66.
After his stroke on October 12 this year, he was taken to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham and later transferred to Nottingham City Hospital where he suffered a fatal heart attack on October 21.
Mrs Riley, from Bingham, Nottingham, said: 'I am disgusted at what my father had to go through during his final days.
'He had been living in that complex since 1990 and was an able man, he did his own shopping and he drove his own car.
'To think he was lying there helpless in his bedroom while the ambulance crew were on the other side of the door is shocking, no one should have to go through that.
'I have had various people sending through their condolences but I want answers into why more couldn’t have been done.
'I am thankful for the AA contacting the right people and trying to help my father, but after that, not enough was done for him.
'He is and will be missed, he was a father-of-two, grandfather-of-seven, great-grandfather-of-two with one on the way that he never got the chance to hear about.
'More needs to be done so that this doesn’t happen to other families because we are very angry about what happened, we’re furious.
'When he first moved into the complex, there was a warden on site, although through the years the warden disappeared, maybe they should bring a warden back so these incidents can be dealt with quicker.'
Both Nottingham City Homes and Places for People launched have investigations into the treatment of Mr Coombs.
Hero: Mr Coombs, pictured left as an air cadet, served as an RAF mechanic in Singapore, right, during WWII
A Nottingham City Homes spokesman said: 'We are already speaking with Places for People to see if they require us to make any changes to the contracted emergency response procedure we have with them.'
She added that the mobile operator reached the property within 26 minutes which is inside the 30 minute target for responding to emergencies.
Kim Scott, director at Places for People Individual Support, added: 'The safety of our customers is of the utmost importance and we are reviewing the current process together with Nottingham City Homes and the emergency services.
'If changes are required these will be made as a priority.'
Simon Cook, of the Stroke Association, said time was of the essence when dealing with stroke victims.
He said: 'When a stroke strikes the brain is starved of oxygen and as a result brain cells in the affected area die.
'The sooner patients receive treatment, the more likely they are to make a better recovery.'
An East Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: 'Paramedics had problems reaching Mr Coombs.
'Paramedics would only break a door down to get to patients as a last resort.'
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