Mother Naomi Issitt has been fundraising for defibrillators and campaigning for better medical provision in Rugby since the death of her son, Jamie, from cardiac arrest earlier this year.
Popular Jamie, who studied plumbing at Rugby College, was just 18 when he died – and Naomi believes that he would still be alive today if paramedics had not been forced to travel from Coventry to get to him.
And now, following the closure of Rugby’s last ambulance post at St Cross late last year, Naomi has launched a petition to call for a return of both an ambulance station and an A&E to the town.
Naomi said: “Delays in ambulance response times are proving catastrophic in Rugby.
"Our 18-year-old son, Jamie, passed away in January 2022, after waiting over 17 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
"Jamie suffered an unexplained cardiac arrest in Hillmorton.“That ambulance was dispatched from Coventry and had to travel over 15 miles to reach Jamie. A second ambulance took 23 minutes to reach Jamie.“Had there been ambulances stationed in Rugby, or transferring patients to an A&E department in Rugby, Jamie could have been reached in less than seven minutes, increasing his chance of survival by more than 56 per cent.“Rugby’s population is fast growing, with a current estimated population of 110,000. An ambulance station, stand-by ambulances and a full Accident and emergency department are critically needed in the town.“People are dying waiting for ambulances.“West Midlands Ambulance Service removed the ambulances stationed at St Cross and the stand-by ambulances from Rugby over the past few years, with the last stand-by ambulance being removed in September 2021. The town is too big not to have emergency services.
"Our beautiful boy should still be here with us and could have still been here with us, if he’d been reached by an ambulance or paramedic sooner.
"I’d hate any other family to go through this hell. Jamie deserved better.
"He was taken away from us when he still had so much of his life to live.”
Almost 5,000 residents have signed the petition so far, with many leaving heartfelt messages of support.
Resident Denise Randell wrote: “My elderly stepfather is unwell frequently and we often have to wait for ambulance to come from Coventry.
"Recently he waited four hours on bathroom floor after a fall.
"He has dementia which made it difficult getting him to understand he had to stay there & not move.”
Another resident, Georgina Small, wrote: “As a large family without a car it's so difficult having to go to Coventry.
"It puts such a strain on our family and finances.
“If I have to stay in hospital I end up checking myself out early because of it.
“Rugby needs its own fully functioning hospital and ambulance service.
“I've thought about moving out of the area because of this whole situation.
"It's not a family friendly town when in an emergency or normal health appointments to go all the way to Coventry.”
Rebecca Owen wrote: “Nuneaton is a smaller town by population, is much closer to Coventry, yet it has a full A&E hospital and ambulance service.”
In the lead-up to the closure of the ambulance station at St Cross, a source told this newspaper they believed that the decision would cause preventable deaths.
A spokesperson for West Midlands Ambulance Service stated the move would have no negative impact on patient safety – arguing that the removal of the station would free up more frontline resources.
You can read their full statement by visiting: bit.ly/3ytBteP
In April Rugby MP Mark Pawsey renewed calls for a return of an A&E to Rugby’s St Cross after conducting a survey which saw scores of residents make it clear that is what they want.
Arguing in favour of an A&E, he cited the town’s rapid growth – explaining that our population is set to rise to 135,000 by 2031.
He also explained that Rugby is now the largest urban area in Warwickshire that remains without its own A&E provision.
He said: “The results of my survey were conclusive and show that the overwhelming majority of my constituents believe, as do I, that additional investment in the Hospital of St Cross, and in particular urgent and emergency care provision, is greatly needed as the town expands.”
Mr Pawsey said he is now pushing for the issue to be raised in a Parliamentary debate to make the case for an A&E – though the final decision would almost certainly be down to University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, which runs both St Cross and the hospital in Coventry.
Following the survey Mr Pawsey said he met with with Professor Andrew Hardy, Chief Executive of the NHS trust.
Mr Pawsey said Professor Hardy was ‘struck by the volume and unanimity of responses’.
Meanwhile, Naomi’s ‘OurJay’ campaign to have lifesaving defibrillators installed across the town continues to gather pace.
So far more than £10,000 has been raised – far exceeding the original target to gather £1,500 to have just one defibrillator installed.
In April the second defibrillator funded by the campaign was installed at The Steam Turbine on Barnaby Road – opposite McDonald’s on Leicester Road.
Naomi said Jamie and his friends loved visiting the McDonald’s on Leicester Road, making the installation of that defibrillator a poignant event for family and friends.
You can view the petition at: bit.ly/3kFiNR6
You can also view the defibrillator fundraising campaign by visiting: bit.ly/388B4mW