A PENSIONERS’ group from Tendring has written to the Prime Minister about its shock over the death of an 81-year-old who died while waiting almost four hours for an ambulance.

Marie Norris died alone at her home in Abbigail Gardens, Clacton, after calling 999 to complain of chest pains at about 8pm on January 2.

It took three hours and 45 minutes for paramedics to reach her on what the East of England Ambulance Service said was one of its busiest days of the year.

In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, the Tendring Pensioners’ Action Group (Tenpag) said they were “appalled” by what had happened.

Chairman Mike Le Cornu said: “We can only imagine the distress that her family feels knowing that Mrs Norris died alone, possibly in pain and in fear.

“Any apology from the NHS trust means little to a family who have unnecessarily lost their mother.

“We are sure that the blame will be placed with the ambulance service, but the true blame lies with this Government, who have systematically cut funding to all emergency services and to the NHS.

“Ambulances are queuing outside hospitals or having to stay with patients in corridors because of lack of staff and beds in A&E departments, no wonder that the response time is so poor when ambulance attendance is required.

“For the past eight years the Government have systematically ignored warnings from the Red Cross, doctors, nursing unions, health experts, opposition parties and any other bodies that are involved in the front-line services of the NHS.”

He added: “Any 999 call by an elderly person should be treated as an emergency.

“Older people do not like to make a fuss, they are much less likely to be able to self-diagnose due to the fact that they have other health conditions and symptoms can be confusing, they are often on their own and frightened and vulnerable.

“While we appreciate the concern expressed by our MP, Giles Watling, in calling for a public inquiry, the fact of the matter is that the body he is asking to hold the enquiry is the body that is responsible for the problem.

“If an inquiry is held, the result should be that the Government changes its policies and allows more funding for the NHS, public services and social care.”

Mrs Norris’ death was described by the GMB union as “another example of how we are not coping” with the NHS winter crisis.

Sandy Brown, deputy chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, apologised to Mrs Norris’ family and said the incident will be investigated.

The service added that the result of the investigation will be reported in due course.

Mrs May acknowledged more needs to be done for the NHS but said funding is not the sole issue.

Mrs May said: “If we look at what is happening across the NHS, what we see is that actually the NHS is delivering for more people, it is treating more people and more people are being seen within the four hours every day than has been a few years ago.”

She added: “We have put extra funding into the social care system and we have worked with hospitals and with local authorities to identify how we can reduce those delayed discharges, ie patients being kept in hospital when they shouldn’t be.”