A “wonderful” Wiltshire dad died while waiting hours for an ambulance, an inquest has heard.

Richard Carpenter died at his home in Bromham at around 5am on December 1, 2021, several hours after his wife Jeanette called 999.

By the time an ambulance crew arrived at the house the 71-year-old was unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the scene.

During the inquest, Jeanette described the treatment her husband received as “unsafe” and “inadequate”.

On the night of the incident, the South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust was “swamped”.

At one point, as many as 73 people were waiting for care, many of whom were, like Richard, seriously unwell.

Richard died from complications arising from a complex elective heart surgery he had undergone over a week earlier, after suffering severe pains down his left side.

An inquest heard the cause of death was 1A haemothorax and 1B bleeding from the site of a cardiac surgery.

Senior Coroner David Ridley concluded that Richard’s death was an accident, caused by unforeseen consequences of a necessary surgery.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Bristol Heart Institute, where Richard underwent surgeryBristol Heart Institute, where Richard underwent surgery (Image: Google Maps)

He added that while there was an “unavoidable delay” in an ambulance reaching Richard, this did not directly cause his death as the outcome may not have been different had it arrived sooner.

Evidence from a consultant cardiac surgeon at the Bristol Heart Institute, where Richard underwent his surgery, said it was “possible” the outcome would have been different had he been seen within an hour.

But Coroner Ridley added that, even if the ambulance had not been delayed, it may not have gotten him to Bristol in time.

Jeanette made three calls to the ambulance service on the night of Richard’s death but says she had to wait three and a half hours for a call where her husband was clinically assessed.

The court heard she has been left with the “stress and trauma” of the incident in the following years.

Jonathan Knight, a senior operations manager for the ambulance service’s emergency operations centre, said the period was a challenging time for the entire NHS, with the demands of the pandemic leaving the team “heartbroken.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Richard CarpenterRichard Carpenter (Image: Jeanette Carpenter)

He added: “It was an incredibly difficult time, I found this case very upsetting and I can only imagine what the family went through.

“It was certainly not what we aspire to, our sole aim is to save life and prevent harm.”

Mr Knight admitted the service was “commonly overwhelmed” by the increase in demand for their services while Covid-19 restrictions were in place.

At the peak of the pandemic, call handlers were facing as many as 750 calls waiting at a time.

“A huge amount of work” has gone into improving response times by reviewing and referring non-urgent care for patients.

But both Mr Knight and Coroner Ridley acknowledged there remains an ongoing “bottleneck” when handing patients over to hospitals.

This has prevented the service from consistently achieving a “pre-pandemic response standard.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Richard Carpenter waited hours for an ambulance (file photo)Richard Carpenter waited hours for an ambulance (file photo) (Image: Getty)

Richard was a successful entrepreneur and “wonderful boss” who was blessed with “an amazing family.”

His family described him as having a good sense of humour and a “lightning wit.”

Throughout his life, he strived to help others and raised countless sums for charity.

Richard enjoyed painting with acrylics, fishing, and playing golf.

In a statement read out in court, Jeanette said her husband of 47 years was her soulmate and best friend.

She added: “There are no words to describe how much we all miss him, we have a hole in our family and feel its ache every day.”

At Richard’s funeral, 125 people filled the church to remember his life.

“That’s how much he was loved, respected, and valued,” said Jeanette.

“Every pew was taken.”