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Kent v Griffiths [2000] 2 WLR 1158 Court of Appeal

The claimant was having an asthma attack. Her doctor attended her home and called for an ambulance at 16.25. The ambulance, which was only 6 miles away, did not arrive until 17.05. The claimant suffered respiratory arrest. Two phone calls had been made to enquire why the ambulance had not arrived and the operator confirmed that it was on its way. The doctor gave evidence that had she known of the delay she would have advised the Claimant's husband to drive her to the hospital.

Lord Woolf MR:
"An important feature of this case is that there is no question of an ambulance not being available or of a conflict in priorities. Again I recognise that where what is being attacked is the allocation of resources, whether in the provision of sufficient ambulances or sufficient drivers or attendants, different considerations could apply. There then could be issues which are not suited for resolution by the courts. However, once there are available, both in the form of an ambulance and in the form of manpower, the resources to provide an ambulance on which there are no alternative demands, the ambulance service would be acting perversely "in circumstances such as arose in this case", if it did not make those resources available. Having decided to provide an ambulance an explanation is required to justify a failure to attend within reasonable time...


The fact that it was a person who foreseeably would suffer further injuries by a delay in providing an ambulance, when there was no reason why it should not be provided, is important in establishing the necessary proximity and thus duty of care in this case. In other words, as there were no circumstances which made it unfair or unreasonable or unjust that liability should exist, there is no reason why there should not be liability if the arrival of the ambulance was delayed for no good reason. The acceptance of the call in this case established the duty of care. On the findings of the judge it was delay which caused the further injuries...

I would say exactly the same of the facts in this case. As in Costello they are out of the ordinary. I would hope that it is unusual in the extreme for an ambulance to be delayed as this ambulance was delayed without the crew being able to put forward any explanation. "
 
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