Heartbreaking footage tonight exposes the brutal reality within the crippled British NHS.
Channel 4’s dazzling Dispatches documentary, shot by an undercover paramedic during the busiest days of winter, captures a series of devastating incidents that staff warn have become commonplace.
One of the most poignant clips in the hour-long program shows the last moments of a man who died of a heart attack after delays getting him to the right place.
Daniel Waterhouse, the 30-year-old 999 worker who bravely sacrificed his career to expose the terrifying realities of life in the NHS, described it as the “hardest part” of his filming.
Other gruesome clips include that of a 90-year-old woman lying on the ground outside in freezing temperatures for four hours and a young girl with a dislocated kneecap being taken to the ER on a picnic table due to ambulance delays.
Channel 4’s dazzling Dispatches documentary, shot by an undercover paramedic during the busiest days of winter, captures a series of devastating incidents that staff warn have become commonplace
Footage shows undercover paramedic Daniel Waterhouse taking a man to the Rhesus ward, where the most seriously ill or injured patients are usually treated, only to discover there is no room
Mr Waterhouse, who was on his last shift after resigning last week, hopes his testimony ‘will help bring about change’ and that ‘something will be done’.
In January, Mr. Waterhouse received a call about someone who had been vomiting for 18 hours and had chest pains.
The man had had two stents, metal or plastic tubes inserted to keep a passageway open, placed before Christmas, but had never had a heart attack.
Mr Waterhouse said they knew he should be sent to the specialist cardiac ward at Harefield Hospital in Hillingdon, London.
After being cut off from the operator many times, they were finally told to text heart readings to a cardiologist.
Mr Waterhouse (pictured above) was on his last shift following his discharge last week and hopes his evidence, broadcast Thursday evening by Channel 4 Dispatches, will ‘help bring about change’
They got no response to the text and instead took the patient to Watford General Hospital.
There they expected medics to wait for their arrival because of the seriousness of the man’s condition, but that was not the case.
Two hours later, Mr Waterhouse got another job – to transport the same man to Harefield, as a cardiologist had finally read the man’s EKG readings and concluded he was having a heart attack.
“He could have gone to where he needed to be three hours earlier, but he didn’t because of the communication breakdown,” said Mr Waterhouse.
On arrival at Harefield, the cardiologist said to Mr Waterhouse: ‘The scan they did at Watford suggests that the arteries they put stents in a few months ago are clogged, completely clogged. The heart function is not very good at the moment, I’m afraid.’
Dye was injected into the man’s blood, which revealed that much of the heart tissue muscle was dead and “there was no way out.”
The man, whose face was blurred to protect his identity – like all patients who were covertly registered – died shortly afterwards and Harefield does not believe delays affected the outcome.
The documentary shows a 90-year-old woman who had fallen over on a frosty day in December.
It was classified as a Category 2 call, requiring an average response of 18 minutes. But Mr. Waterhouse’s busy 999 crew didn’t arrive for four hours.
When the paramedics arrive, they see a commentary on the snow before someone sees the older woman on the ground and says, “Oh my god.” Jesus.’
Mr Waterhouse said: ‘Out in the street in front of the house lay the 90-year-old lady, who had activated her careline pendant because she had fallen.
“It’s two degrees outside, there was ice on the outside. She was already outside at that temperature around 1 am and it was almost 4:30 am when we got to her.
“She was extremely hypothermic, below 34 degrees. At that temperature, life cannot be sustained for long.’
Mr Waterhouse, from Finchley, North London, who qualified as an emergency technician in 2021, records conditions in emergency departments in Watford and Barnet
Raw footage taken by Daniel Waterhouse, a 30-year-old paramedic, during the darkest days of the NHS’s worst ever winter shows corridors full of patients
After spending so long outside in those temperatures, in pain, the paramedic said he was shocked that the woman “wasn’t dead yet.”
She spent two weeks in hospital before being released to a care home.
In November, footage shows how a young girl was taken to hospital by her parents on a picnic table after dislocating her kneecap. They claimed they had no choice because they had to wait 20 hours for an ambulance.
Mr Waterhouse said: ‘A family came in who had taken their daughter to the emergency room themselves after giving up waiting for an ambulance.
“She had taken a dance class and her kneecap had popped out. It was just to the left of where it should have been.’
The girl can be seen in the clips saying it’s cold while lying under a foil blanket.
Due to long waiting times in the ambulance, her parents got “some kind of picnic dining table” and put her on it like “a makeshift stretcher.”
The paramedics count down from three before putting her kneecap back in place, after which the young girl, clearly in extreme pain and fear, lets out a piercing scream.
Waterhouse said: ‘Being taken to hospital on a picnic table because no ambulances are available for 20 hours is a horrible experience for that young girl to go through. It’s just something you don’t expect in a developed country.’
Another shocking case described in the documentary was of Hannah Houghton, a 36-year-old mother of four with cystic fibrosis who died after waiting 11 hours for an ambulance.
However, her ordeal was not recorded by Mr Waterhouse, but took place in Birmingham.
She turned out to have flu, pneumonia and blood poisoning and was given antibiotics in the hospital.
Her heartbroken husband told Dispatches, “I held her hand and said you’d be okay. I told her I loved her, she said the same.
“I don’t even think half a minute went by before she went into cardiac arrest.
‘I do think things could have turned out differently if the ambulance service had come earlier and the antibiotics had been administered earlier.’
The documentary also heard about an elderly man, from Essex, who died after the transfer was delayed and took eight hours to undergo surgery following a stroke.
Dr. Sanjeev Nayak, a consultant interventional neuroradiologist who helped develop the UK’s first 24/7 stroke service, said he thought the man “would have had a good outcome, perhaps woken up from hospital,” if the treatment was completed earlier .
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine calculates that there were 23,000 extra deaths in 2022 due to long waiting times for emergency services.