Stourbridge grandfather David Patrick, who made appearances on shows including Fifteen to One and The Weakest Link, collapsed in the garden after falling ill at home at about 5.20pm on Tuesday. However, when his distraught wife, Patricia, phoned 999 the ambulance operator told her there was a six-hour waiting time as no medics were available.
West Midlands Ambulance Service said that after new information that the 73-year-old’s condition had worsened, a crew arrived within four-and-a-half minutes of that call being received shortly after 9pm.
Now Mrs Patrick, 71, is calling for urgent action to tackle the crisis after the pub quiz boffin was in cardiac arrest by time the team turned up. Despite efforts to revive him, he died at Dudley's Russells Hall Hospital just hours later.
Mrs Patrick said: "Something has to be done urgently. People cannot be made to wait for over four hours to receive help. When the operator first told me how long we'd have to wait I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I thought I'd misheard. It wasn't even a busy weekend night.
"My husband was a vulnerable man who needed treatment straight away. He didn't deserve to have to wait on the patio through the evening as it got colder and darker.
"If any good comes from my husband's death it's that something like this doesn't happen ever again. The NHS is under incredible strain with massive delays and people are dying as a result. It cannot continue like this," she added.
The family said Patrick had heart issues, suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had diabetes.
Mrs Patrick added: "I was in the kitchen and saw him go down. He only had one foot after having one amputated because of diabetes, so he did have difficulty walking. We initially thought he'd broken his hip because he said that was where he was in a lot of pain.
"But later on he said both his legs were aching. I was sat out waiting with him and as it got chillier I went and fetched the quilt from his bed in the living room and put it over him and a pillow underneath his head.
"I got his jacket and put it around his shoulders to keep out the cold. After three-and-a-half hours he started to drift out of consciousness and stopped breathing. That's when I called again.
"I have to say that when the paramedics did come they were absolutely fabulous and did all they could to save David but they shouldn't have been put in a position where they had to keep someone waiting for more than four hours."
In a statement, West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “We would like to apologise to the patient for the time it took to get to them. Following new information that the patient’s condition had become much more serious, an ambulance arrived within four-and-a-half minutes of that call being received and 15 minutes after the second call.
“The whole of the NHS remains under severe pressure and unfortunately, long hospital handover delays mean some patients are waiting far longer for an ambulance to come to them than we would want.”
The trust has been under huge pressure with reports of long waiting times at hospitals, resulting in paramedics not reaching other patients in time. The trust's nursing director, Mark Docherty, has warned that the service could face a “Titanic moment” and collapse this summer unless the crisis was averted.