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Ambulance delay may have cost Archway mother her life

PUBLISHED: 07:30 25 September 2014 | UPDATED: 10:03 26 September 2014

Joe Lillington with a picture of his mum Toni Skillington who died and Joe is sueing the ambulance service.

Joe Lillington with a picture of his mum Toni Skillington who died and Joe is sueing the ambulance service.

Archant

A distraught son is set to take legal action against the London Ambulance Service (LAS) after paramedics took three hours to reach his mother.

Joe Lillington (left) as a child with his mother Toni Skillington and his younger brother Louis, 22Joe Lillington (left) as a child with his mother Toni Skillington and his younger brother Louis, 22

Toni Skillington, 43, was found dead at her flat in Hornsey Road, Holloway, at about 10.30pm on April 1, after taking an overdose of methadone and alcohol.

Mrs Skillington, a recovering heroin addict, had called her son, Joe Lillington, before 7.30pm telling him she had taken too much – but when he called for help, the ambulance took six times its target response of 30 minutes to arrive.

Her son said she had been doing well after her husband died on New Year’s Day, and that she had not intended to kill herself.

At an inquest on July 30 at St Pancras Coroner’s Court a verdict of accidental death was returned, but coroner Mary Hassell also issued a Prevention of Future Death Report, stating that the opportunity to save her life had been missed due to a failure to follow LAS protocol.

Diverted

Mr Lillington, 23, who grew up in Holloway but now lives in Mile End, said: “The ambulance service should have and could have acted sooner.

“She wasn’t well, she had a lot to drink and she had some of her medication that she used to take. She rang me and she said she had taken too much and I phoned the ambulance.

“It took three hours to get to an overdose on a class A drug. The call handler didn’t even know what methadone was, she categorised it as ‘other’.”

Three ambulances were sent to the flat but they all got called to other emergencies which were prioritised over Mrs Skillington.

Mr Lillington was told by his mother’s neighbour that she had died when the police got into her flat – he then had to go and identify the body.

“I’ve dealt with overdoses with her in the past, she had no intention – she called me for help,” he said.

“It was three months to the day since her husband died. But she was starting to turn things around, she was getting on well with her mother and building relationships.

“She was a nice person. We were very close, we were more like best friends than mother and son. Even her doctor said she never had the slightest inkling that she might be in a suicidal state of mind.”

Mr Lillington is now considering taking legal action against LAS in his mother’s memory.

A spokesman for LAS said: “We would like to, once again, offer our condolences to Ms Skillington’s family and are very sorry we were not able to send an ambulance crew more quickly to treat her and take her to hospital.”

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