‘Sarah’s death after paramedic failings in Barking must lead to changes’, say family

PUBLISHED: 13:18 14 May 2013 | UPDATED: 13:21 14 May 2013

21-year-old student Sarah Mulenga who died after ambulance crew 'refused to treat' her

21-year-old student Sarah Mulenga who died after ambulance crew 'refused to treat' her


The family of a woman who died after serious failings by paramedics, say they hope her death will lead to major changes within the ambulance service.

Sarah Mulenga, 21, suffered from sickle cell anameia and became ill at her home, in Charlton Crescent Barking, on January 9, 2011.

An inquest at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court last month heard that the two paramedics who first attended the seriously ill university student failed to carry out “even basic checks” and refused to take her to hospital.

Other paramedics had to be called and they did take her to hospital, where she died from multiple organ failure.

Coroner Chinyere Inyama said that although Sarah’s death was as a result of natural causes, it was “contributed to by neglect”.

The family’s solicitor Caron Heyes said: “The death of Sarah is a terrible tragedy and her parents and family have been left devastated.

“They hope that, at the very least, Sarah’s death can be seen to have led to real changes to the service to improve patient safety.”

She explained that the family, who are from Zambia, were in the process of bringing a civil claim against the London Ambulance Service (LAS).

Katy Millard, assistant director of operations at LAS, said: “We are extremely sorry that the standard of care Sarah received by the first ambulance crew was well below what we expect from our staff. Despite their qualifications and experience, the crew did not act in accordance with their training and our procedures and are no longer working for the service.”

She said their actions were not reflective of the “hundreds of caring and compassionate medics who provide a high level of service to our patients every day”.

Sarah’s landlady, Chinwe Moneke, called the ambulance after finding the young woman collapsed in the bathroom.

Speaking in 2011 she said the paramedics “did not check Sarah’s temperature nor heartbeat, in fact they did not touch her at all.”

Chinwe claimed one of the paramedics had said, “if you want to be taken to hospital, then get up so we can take you”.

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