Tag Archives: after

Birth control app reported to Swedish officials after 37 unwanted pregnancies

Users of Natural Cycles, first app certified as contraceptive method in Europe, identified among people seeking abortions at hospital

The Natural Cycles app claims to be 93% effective under typical use.


The Natural Cycles app claims to be 93% effective under typical use. Photograph: Danijela Froki @2016/Natural Cycles

A much-hyped birth control app has been reported to Swedish authorities after a hospital found 37 cases of unwanted pregnancies among women relying on the app for contraception.

Natural Cycles, a smartphone application that marries hi-tech algorithms with the old-fashioned rhythm method, last year became the first app to be certified as a contraceptive method in Europe. The app requires women to input their temperature every morning, then calculates the users’ menstrual cycle and informs them when they can have sex without protection.

The Stockholm-based company, founded by Cern physicist Elina Berglund and her husband, Raoul Scherwitzl, claims to be 93% effective with typical use – and without the side-effects that many women experience from hormonal birth control.

But the startup is now on the defensive after the Swedish public broadcaster SVT reported that 37 of the 668 women who sought an abortion at one of Stockholm’s largest hospitals from September to December 2017 were relying on Natural Cycles for birth control.

The hospital reported the app to Sweden’s Medical Products Agency, and Natural Cycles said in a statement that it was “responding to each reported case”.

“An unwanted pregnancy is, of course, very unfortunate and we deeply care every time one of our users becomes pregnant unplanned,” the company said. “As our user base increases, so will the number of unplanned pregnancies coming from Natural Cycles users. This is an arithmetic truth applicable to all contraceptive methods.”

A 93% effectiveness rate means that out of every 100 women using the app, seven will experience an unwanted pregnancy. Those figures are about comparable with typical use of oral contraceptives, and better than condoms or other barrier methods, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The traditional rhythm method, which involves tracking one’s cycle without the assistance of a nuclear physicist’s algorithm, has a typical use failure rate of 24%.

Birth control app reported to Swedish officials after 37 unwanted pregnancies

Users of Natural Cycles, first app certified as contraceptive method in Europe, identified among people seeking abortions at hospital

The Natural Cycles app claims to be 93% effective under typical use.


The Natural Cycles app claims to be 93% effective under typical use. Photograph: Danijela Froki @2016/Natural Cycles

A much-hyped birth control app has been reported to Swedish authorities after a hospital found 37 cases of unwanted pregnancies among women relying on the app for contraception.

Natural Cycles, a smartphone application that marries high-tech algorithms with the old-fashioned rhythm method, last year became the first app to be certified as a contraceptive method in Europe. The app requires women to input their temperature every morning, then calculates the users’ menstrual cycle and informs them when they can have sex without protection.

The Stockholm-based company, founded by Cern physicist Elina Berglund and her husband, Raoul Scherwitzl, claims to be 93% effective with typical use – and without the side effects that many women experience from hormonal birth control.

But the startup is now on the defensive after the Swedish public broadcaster SVT reported that 37 of the 668 women who sought an abortion at one of Stockholm’s largest hospitals from September to December 2017 were relying on Natural Cycles for birth control.

The hospital reported the app to Sweden’s Medical Products Agency, and Natural Cycles said in a statement that it was “responding to each reported case”.

“An unwanted pregnancy is, of course, very unfortunate and we deeply care every time one of our users becomes pregnant unplanned,” the company said. “As our user base increases, so will the number of unplanned pregnancies coming from Natural Cycles users. This is an arithmetic truth applicable to all contraceptive methods.”

A 93% effectiveness rate means that out of every 100 women using the app, seven will experience an unwanted pregnancy. Those figures are about comparable with typical use of oral contraceptives, and better than condoms or other barrier methods, according to the Center for Disease Control.

The traditional rhythm method, which involves tracking one’s cycle without the assistance of a nuclear physicist’s algorithm, has a typical use failure rate of 24%.

Women get worse care after a heart attack than men – must they shout louder? | Ann Robinson

Women are getting worse medical care than men after a heart attack, resulting in unnecessary deaths, according to a new analysis of 180,368 Swedish patients, followed up for 10 years after a heart attack. When women were given optimal treatment (surgery or stents, aspirin and statins), they did as well as men. And the situation is likely to be even more obvious in the UK, says the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study.

And is this glaring gender divide because women ignore their symptoms? Get different symptoms – more easily confused with indigestion? Are taken less seriously by GPs? Are less likely to have heart disease when investigated for chest pain? Are less likely to have tests such as an ECG? Receive different treatment in hospital? And are less likely to be offered implantable devices that prevent later deaths?


This study suggests that even once a heart attack is confirmed, that woman is less likely than a man to get recommended treatment

The likely answer to all these questions is yes. There’s a subconscious bias at work that means if I see an overweight, middle-aged male smoker with a bit of breathlessness or chest discomfort in my GP surgery, I’m more likely to think “heart disease” and if she’s female to think “acid reflux”. Historically, that may have been statistically understandable, but it’s now an unjustified bias that GPs need to recognise and counter by following proper referral pathways.

Even the most objective of GPs will respond to what a patient says. So women and men alike do themselves no favours by underplaying symptoms or suggesting that they’re sure it’s indigestion or muscle pain. In my experience, women are more likely to self-blame than men: “I let myself go over Christmas and have put on weight so probably I need to just cut down and this pressure in my chest will go.” This is exactly what a woman said to me recently but an ECG showed signs of strain on the heart and triggered an urgent assessment at a rapid access chest pain clinic for specialist care to prevent a heart attack.

I’ve always assumed that although a woman is less likely to present their symptoms and be referred appropriately by the GP, once she gets to hospital, she’ll be treated the same as a man. But this study suggests that even once a heart attack is confirmed, that woman is less likely than a man to get recommended treatment. This doesn’t chime with my clinical impression; our female patients discharged from hospital after a heart attack are on the same drugs and have undergone the same procedures (stents or surgery) if needed as our male patients.

Clinical guidelines are based on objective criteria and gender is not one of them. It requires further interrogation of UK databases to verify whether this same apparent damaging discrimination is happening elsewhere. It would also be useful to hear comment from Swedish cardiologists and their department of health to understand what lies behind this scary story.

On the plus side, we continue to live longer than ever and the rates of circulatory disease (heart disease and stroke) continue to fall. In the UK, most of us will die of cancer, circulatory disease or dementia. Falls in smoking rates, changes in lifestyle and medical advances have all made the chances of having a heart attack and surviving one better than we could have imagined in the 1970s, when my dad died aged 48 after his third heart attack.

But the tragedy is that there are still 42,000 premature deaths a year from heart disease in the UK that are now potentially avoidable. Men and women alike need to recognise the signs, seek medical help and demand prompt and optimal care. And it seems that, as in so many areas, women may need to shout louder to be heard.

Ann Robinson is a GP

Women get worse care after a heart attack than men – must they shout louder? | Ann Robinson

Women are getting worse medical care than men after a heart attack, resulting in unnecessary deaths, according to a new analysis of 180,368 Swedish patients, followed up for 10 years after a heart attack. When women were given optimal treatment (surgery or stents, aspirin and statins), they did as well as men. And the situation is likely to be even more obvious in the UK, says the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study.

And is this glaring gender divide because women ignore their symptoms? Get different symptoms – more easily confused with indigestion? Are taken less seriously by GPs? Are less likely to have heart disease when investigated for chest pain? Are less likely to have tests such as an ECG? Receive different treatment in hospital? And are less likely to be offered implantable devices that prevent later deaths?


This study suggests that even once a heart attack is confirmed, that woman is less likely than a man to get recommended treatment

The likely answer to all these questions is yes. There’s a subconscious bias at work that means if I see an overweight, middle-aged male smoker with a bit of breathlessness or chest discomfort in my GP surgery, I’m more likely to think “heart disease” and if she’s female to think “acid reflux”. Historically, that may have been statistically understandable, but it’s now an unjustified bias that GPs need to recognise and counter by following proper referral pathways.

Even the most objective of GPs will respond to what a patient says. So women and men alike do themselves no favours by underplaying symptoms or suggesting that they’re sure it’s indigestion or muscle pain. In my experience, women are more likely to self-blame than men: “I let myself go over Christmas and have put on weight so probably I need to just cut down and this pressure in my chest will go.” This is exactly what a woman said to me recently but an ECG showed signs of strain on the heart and triggered an urgent assessment at a rapid access chest pain clinic for specialist care to prevent a heart attack.

I’ve always assumed that although a woman is less likely to present their symptoms and be referred appropriately by the GP, once she gets to hospital, she’ll be treated the same as a man. But this study suggests that even once a heart attack is confirmed, that woman is less likely than a man to get recommended treatment. This doesn’t chime with my clinical impression; our female patients discharged from hospital after a heart attack are on the same drugs and have undergone the same procedures (stents or surgery) if needed as our male patients.

Clinical guidelines are based on objective criteria and gender is not one of them. It requires further interrogation of UK databases to verify whether this same apparent damaging discrimination is happening elsewhere. It would also be useful to hear comment from Swedish cardiologists and their department of health to understand what lies behind this scary story.

On the plus side, we continue to live longer than ever and the rates of circulatory disease (heart disease and stroke) continue to fall. In the UK, most of us will die of cancer, circulatory disease or dementia. Falls in smoking rates, changes in lifestyle and medical advances have all made the chances of having a heart attack and surviving one better than we could have imagined in the 1970s, when my dad died aged 48 after his third heart attack.

But the tragedy is that there are still 42,000 premature deaths a year from heart disease in the UK that are now potentially avoidable. Men and women alike need to recognise the signs, seek medical help and demand prompt and optimal care. And it seems that, as in so many areas, women may need to shout louder to be heard.

Ann Robinson is a GP

Essex woman dies after waiting nearly four hours for ambulance

An 81-year-old woman was found dead in her house after waiting almost four hours for an ambulance.

The pensioner, who lived in Clacton, Essex, called 999 on Tuesday complaining of chest pains, according to the GMB union. East of England (EEAST) ambulance service said a crew arrived three hours and 45 minutes after the initial call.

Dave Powell, GMB regional officer, said the crew had to force their way into the property on arrival because the control room could not contact the woman by phone, and found her dead.

“They’re devastated because they’re not in the job to find people dead, they’re in the job to help people and keep them alive,” said Powell.

“It puts enormous strain and stress on people who are working really hard as it is.

“Three hours and 45 minutes is totally unacceptable for an elderly woman on her own with chest pains.

“Something has got to be done and the government has got to wake up to this crisis.”

He said such cases were likely to be more widespread than the public was aware of.

Sandy Brown, the deputy chief executive at EEAST, said: “Our sincere condolences and apologies go out to the patient’s family and friends and we are truly sorry for the ambulance wait that occurred at this incident.

“We have very publicly expressed how stretched the ambulance service is and the pressures our staff and the NHS as a whole have been under the past few days. As a trust, we have experienced our busiest days ever and we know our partners in the hospitals are in the same situation.

“A clinician in one of our control rooms made a welfare call and spoke to the patient at 9.47pm and an ambulance crew arrived at the address at 11.46pm. The patient was found unconscious and not breathing and sadly died at the scene.

“This incident is being investigated by the trust and we will report back our findings in due course.”

Ambulance services, like hospitals, have struggled to cope in the midst of the NHS’s winter crisis. Last week, EEAST raised its operational level to the highest possible, an indication that its ability to respond to potentially life-threatening incidents had been affected. In some cases, it used taxis to transport patients to hospital.

The service says it received 4,200 calls on Tuesday, compared with a daily average of about 3,000. It says it has also been affected by a shortage of capacity at hospitals, with nearly 500 hospital handovers lasting an hour or more between 29 December and 1 January inclusive.

EEAST is not the only ambulance service that is struggling. On Tuesday, North East ambulance service also raised its operational level to the highest possible, citing “extreme pressure”.

Norman Lamb, a former health minister whose North Norfolk constituency is served by EEAST, said that while it was possible the woman could not have been saved even if the ambulance had arrived quicker – for example, if she had suffered a cardiac arrest – tragic consequences were unavoidable where there was underinvestment in the NHS.

“I’ve been making clear that the state that the system is in, it’s inevitable that people will lose their lives and failures of care will mean people will be left with long-term disabilities,” he said.

“One of the major strains is the ambulance service and its link with A&E, problems with handovers and ambulances stacking up, which leads to delays. Paramedics are having to work long shifts because of insufficient workforce. These are the human consequences of the financial state the NHS is in. This is why it’s vital the government acts, the prime minister can’t stand by and allow the NHS to deteriorate.”

Essex woman dies after waiting nearly four hours for ambulance

An 81-year-old woman was found dead in her house after waiting almost four hours for an ambulance.

The pensioner, who lived in Clacton, Essex, called 999 on Tuesday complaining of chest pains, according to the GMB union. East of England (EEAST) ambulance service said a crew arrived three hours and 45 minutes after the initial call.

Dave Powell, GMB regional officer, said the crew had to force their way into the property on arrival because the control room could not contact the woman by phone, and found her dead.

“They’re devastated because they’re not in the job to find people dead, they’re in the job to help people and keep them alive,” said Powell.

“It puts enormous strain and stress on people who are working really hard as it is.

“Three hours and 45 minutes is totally unacceptable for an elderly woman on her own with chest pains.

“Something has got to be done and the government has got to wake up to this crisis.”

He said such cases were likely to be more widespread than the public was aware of.

Sandy Brown, the deputy chief executive at EEAST, said: “Our sincere condolences and apologies go out to the patient’s family and friends and we are truly sorry for the ambulance wait that occurred at this incident.

“We have very publicly expressed how stretched the ambulance service is and the pressures our staff and the NHS as a whole have been under the past few days. As a trust, we have experienced our busiest days ever and we know our partners in the hospitals are in the same situation.

“A clinician in one of our control rooms made a welfare call and spoke to the patient at 9.47pm and an ambulance crew arrived at the address at 11.46pm. The patient was found unconscious and not breathing and sadly died at the scene.

“This incident is being investigated by the trust and we will report back our findings in due course.”

Ambulance services, like hospitals, have struggled to cope in the midst of the NHS’s winter crisis. Last week, EEAST raised its operational level to the highest possible, an indication that its ability to respond to potentially life-threatening incidents had been affected. In some cases, it used taxis to transport patients to hospital.

The service says it received 4,200 calls on Tuesday, compared with a daily average of about 3,000. It says it has also been affected by a shortage of capacity at hospitals, with nearly 500 hospital handovers lasting an hour or more between 29 December and 1 January inclusive.

EEAST is not the only ambulance service that is struggling. On Tuesday, North East ambulance service also raised its operational level to the highest possible, citing “extreme pressure”.

Norman Lamb, a former health minister whose North Norfolk constituency is served by EEAST, said that while it was possible the woman could not have been saved even if the ambulance had arrived quicker – for example, if she had suffered a cardiac arrest – tragic consequences were unavoidable where there was underinvestment in the NHS.

“I’ve been making clear that the state that the system is in, it’s inevitable that people will lose their lives and failures of care will mean people will be left with long-term disabilities,” he said.

“One of the major strains is the ambulance service and its link with A&E, problems with handovers and ambulances stacking up, which leads to delays. Paramedics are having to work long shifts because of insufficient workforce. These are the human consequences of the financial state the NHS is in. This is why it’s vital the government acts, the prime minister can’t stand by and allow the NHS to deteriorate.”

Essex woman dies after waiting nearly four hours for ambulance

An 81-year-old woman was found dead in her house after waiting almost four hours for an ambulance.

The pensioner, who lived in Clacton, Essex, called 999 on Tuesday complaining of chest pains, according to the GMB union. East of England (EEAST) ambulance service said a crew arrived three hours and 45 minutes after the initial call.

Dave Powell, GMB regional officer, said the crew had to force their way into the property on arrival because the control room could not contact the woman by phone, and found her dead.

“They’re devastated because they’re not in the job to find people dead, they’re in the job to help people and keep them alive,” said Powell.

“It puts enormous strain and stress on people who are working really hard as it is.

“Three hours and 45 minutes is totally unacceptable for an elderly woman on her own with chest pains.

“Something has got to be done and the government has got to wake up to this crisis.”

He said such cases were likely to be more widespread than the public was aware of.

Sandy Brown, the deputy chief executive at EEAST, said: “Our sincere condolences and apologies go out to the patient’s family and friends and we are truly sorry for the ambulance wait that occurred at this incident.

“We have very publicly expressed how stretched the ambulance service is and the pressures our staff and the NHS as a whole have been under the past few days. As a trust, we have experienced our busiest days ever and we know our partners in the hospitals are in the same situation.

“A clinician in one of our control rooms made a welfare call and spoke to the patient at 9.47pm and an ambulance crew arrived at the address at 11.46pm. The patient was found unconscious and not breathing and sadly died at the scene.

“This incident is being investigated by the trust and we will report back our findings in due course.”

Ambulance services, like hospitals, have struggled to cope in the midst of the NHS’s winter crisis. Last week, EEAST raised its operational level to the highest possible, an indication that its ability to respond to potentially life-threatening incidents had been affected. In some cases, it used taxis to transport patients to hospital.

The service says it received 4,200 calls on Tuesday, compared with a daily average of about 3,000. It says it has also been affected by a shortage of capacity at hospitals, with nearly 500 hospital handovers lasting an hour or more between 29 December and 1 January inclusive.

EEAST is not the only ambulance service that is struggling. On Tuesday, North East ambulance service also raised its operational level to the highest possible, citing “extreme pressure”.

Norman Lamb, a former health minister whose North Norfolk constituency is served by EEAST, said that while it was possible the woman could not have been saved even if the ambulance had arrived quicker – for example, if she had suffered a cardiac arrest – tragic consequences were unavoidable where there was underinvestment in the NHS.

“I’ve been making clear that the state that the system is in, it’s inevitable that people will lose their lives and failures of care will mean people will be left with long-term disabilities,” he said.

“One of the major strains is the ambulance service and its link with A&E, problems with handovers and ambulances stacking up, which leads to delays. Paramedics are having to work long shifts because of insufficient workforce. These are the human consequences of the financial state the NHS is in. This is why it’s vital the government acts, the prime minister can’t stand by and allow the NHS to deteriorate.”

Essex woman dies after waiting nearly four hours for ambulance

An 81-year-old woman was found dead in her house after waiting almost four hours for an ambulance.

The pensioner, who lived in Clacton, Essex, called 999 on Tuesday complaining of chest pains, according to the GMB union. East of England (EEAST) ambulance service said a crew arrived three hours and 45 minutes after the initial call.

Dave Powell, GMB regional officer, said the crew had to force their way into the property on arrival because the control room could not contact the woman by phone, and found her dead.

“They’re devastated because they’re not in the job to find people dead, they’re in the job to help people and keep them alive,” said Powell.

“It puts enormous strain and stress on people who are working really hard as it is.

“Three hours and 45 minutes is totally unacceptable for an elderly woman on her own with chest pains.

“Something has got to be done and the government has got to wake up to this crisis.”

He said such cases were likely to be more widespread than the public was aware of.

Sandy Brown, the deputy chief executive at EEAST, said: “Our sincere condolences and apologies go out to the patient’s family and friends and we are truly sorry for the ambulance wait that occurred at this incident.

“We have very publicly expressed how stretched the ambulance service is and the pressures our staff and the NHS as a whole have been under the past few days. As a trust, we have experienced our busiest days ever and we know our partners in the hospitals are in the same situation.

“A clinician in one of our control rooms made a welfare call and spoke to the patient at 9.47pm and an ambulance crew arrived at the address at 11.46pm. The patient was found unconscious and not breathing and sadly died at the scene.

“This incident is being investigated by the trust and we will report back our findings in due course.”

Ambulance services, like hospitals, have struggled to cope in the midst of the NHS’s winter crisis. Last week, EEAST raised its operational level to the highest possible, an indication that its ability to respond to potentially life-threatening incidents had been affected. In some cases, it used taxis to transport patients to hospital.

The service says it received 4,200 calls on Tuesday, compared with a daily average of about 3,000. It says it has also been affected by a shortage of capacity at hospitals, with nearly 500 hospital handovers lasting an hour or more between 29 December and 1 January inclusive.

EEAST is not the only ambulance service that is struggling. On Tuesday, North East ambulance service also raised its operational level to the highest possible, citing “extreme pressure”.

Norman Lamb, a former health minister whose North Norfolk constituency is served by EEAST, said that while it was possible the woman could not have been saved even if the ambulance had arrived quicker – for example, if she had suffered a cardiac arrest – tragic consequences were unavoidable where there was underinvestment in the NHS.

“I’ve been making clear that the state that the system is in, it’s inevitable that people will lose their lives and failures of care will mean people will be left with long-term disabilities,” he said.

“One of the major strains is the ambulance service and its link with A&E, problems with handovers and ambulances stacking up, which leads to delays. Paramedics are having to work long shifts because of insufficient workforce. These are the human consequences of the financial state the NHS is in. This is why it’s vital the government acts, the prime minister can’t stand by and allow the NHS to deteriorate.”

Essex woman dies after waiting nearly four hours for ambulance

An 81-year-old woman was found dead in her house after waiting almost four hours for an ambulance.

The pensioner, who lived in Clacton, Essex, called 999 on Tuesday complaining of chest pains, according to the GMB union. East of England (EEAST) ambulance service said a crew arrived three hours and 45 minutes after the initial call.

Dave Powell, GMB regional officer, said the crew had to force their way into the property on arrival because the control room could not contact the woman by phone, and found her dead.

“They’re devastated because they’re not in the job to find people dead, they’re in the job to help people and keep them alive,” said Powell.

“It puts enormous strain and stress on people who are working really hard as it is.

“Three hours and 45 minutes is totally unacceptable for an elderly woman on her own with chest pains.

“Something has got to be done and the government has got to wake up to this crisis.”

He said such cases were likely to be more widespread than the public was aware of.

Sandy Brown, the deputy chief executive at EEAST, said: “Our sincere condolences and apologies go out to the patient’s family and friends and we are truly sorry for the ambulance wait that occurred at this incident.

“We have very publicly expressed how stretched the ambulance service is and the pressures our staff and the NHS as a whole have been under the past few days. As a trust, we have experienced our busiest days ever and we know our partners in the hospitals are in the same situation.

“A clinician in one of our control rooms made a welfare call and spoke to the patient at 9.47pm and an ambulance crew arrived at the address at 11.46pm. The patient was found unconscious and not breathing and sadly died at the scene.

“This incident is being investigated by the trust and we will report back our findings in due course.”

Ambulance services, like hospitals, have struggled to cope in the midst of the NHS’s winter crisis. Last week, EEAST raised its operational level to the highest possible, an indication that its ability to respond to potentially life-threatening incidents had been affected. In some cases, it used taxis to transport patients to hospital.

The service says it received 4,200 calls on Tuesday, compared with a daily average of about 3,000. It says it has also been affected by a shortage of capacity at hospitals, with nearly 500 hospital handovers lasting an hour or more between 29 December and 1 January inclusive.

EEAST is not the only ambulance service that is struggling. On Tuesday, North East ambulance service also raised its operational level to the highest possible, citing “extreme pressure”.

Norman Lamb, a former health minister whose North Norfolk constituency is served by EEAST, said that while it was possible the woman could not have been saved even if the ambulance had arrived quicker – for example, if she had suffered a cardiac arrest – tragic consequences were unavoidable where there was underinvestment in the NHS.

“I’ve been making clear that the state that the system is in, it’s inevitable that people will lose their lives and failures of care will mean people will be left with long-term disabilities,” he said.

“One of the major strains is the ambulance service and its link with A&E, problems with handovers and ambulances stacking up, which leads to delays. Paramedics are having to work long shifts because of insufficient workforce. These are the human consequences of the financial state the NHS is in. This is why it’s vital the government acts, the prime minister can’t stand by and allow the NHS to deteriorate.”

Essex woman dies after waiting nearly four hours for ambulance

An 81-year-old woman was found dead in her house after waiting almost four hours for an ambulance.

The pensioner, who lived in Clacton, Essex, called 999 on Tuesday complaining of chest pains, according to the GMB union. East of England (EEAST) ambulance service said a crew arrived three hours and 45 minutes after the initial call.

Dave Powell, GMB regional officer, said the crew had to force their way into the property on arrival because the control room could not contact the woman by phone, and found her dead.

“They’re devastated because they’re not in the job to find people dead, they’re in the job to help people and keep them alive,” said Powell.

“It puts enormous strain and stress on people who are working really hard as it is.

“Three hours and 45 minutes is totally unacceptable for an elderly woman on her own with chest pains.

“Something has got to be done and the government has got to wake up to this crisis.”

He said such cases were likely to be more widespread than the public was aware of.

Sandy Brown, the deputy chief executive at EEAST, said: “Our sincere condolences and apologies go out to the patient’s family and friends and we are truly sorry for the ambulance wait that occurred at this incident.

“We have very publicly expressed how stretched the ambulance service is and the pressures our staff and the NHS as a whole have been under the past few days. As a trust, we have experienced our busiest days ever and we know our partners in the hospitals are in the same situation.

“A clinician in one of our control rooms made a welfare call and spoke to the patient at 9.47pm and an ambulance crew arrived at the address at 11.46pm. The patient was found unconscious and not breathing and sadly died at the scene.

“This incident is being investigated by the trust and we will report back our findings in due course.”

Ambulance services, like hospitals, have struggled to cope in the midst of the NHS’s winter crisis. Last week, EEAST raised its operational level to the highest possible, an indication that its ability to respond to potentially life-threatening incidents had been affected. In some cases, it used taxis to transport patients to hospital.

The service says it received 4,200 calls on Tuesday, compared with a daily average of about 3,000. It says it has also been affected by a shortage of capacity at hospitals, with nearly 500 hospital handovers lasting an hour or more between 29 December and 1 January inclusive.

EEAST is not the only ambulance service that is struggling. On Tuesday, North East ambulance service also raised its operational level to the highest possible, citing “extreme pressure”.

Norman Lamb, a former health minister whose North Norfolk constituency is served by EEAST, said that while it was possible the woman could not have been saved even if the ambulance had arrived quicker – for example, if she had suffered a cardiac arrest – tragic consequences were unavoidable where there was underinvestment in the NHS.

“I’ve been making clear that the state that the system is in, it’s inevitable that people will lose their lives and failures of care will mean people will be left with long-term disabilities,” he said.

“One of the major strains is the ambulance service and its link with A&E, problems with handovers and ambulances stacking up, which leads to delays. Paramedics are having to work long shifts because of insufficient workforce. These are the human consequences of the financial state the NHS is in. This is why it’s vital the government acts, the prime minister can’t stand by and allow the NHS to deteriorate.”