A RETIRED teacher died after waiting more than an hour-and-a-half for an ambulance, an inquest was told.

The family of William Gouldburn made seven 999 calls as the 73-year-old lay on the bathroom floor.

Coroner, Malcolm Donnelly, said Mr Gouldburn’s life might have been saved had an ambulance had arrived sooner.

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However, paramedics didn’t reach the retired special needs teacher until he had gone into cardiac arrest.

Lynn Corrigan - dispatch manager for the North East Ambulance Service - told the Hartlepool inquest that the service was experiencing a high level of urgent calls on the day of his death.

The inquest heard Mr Gouldburn had come out of hospital following surgery to his shoulder just days earlier.

His wife, Pamela, 70, rang a doctor who visited her husband at their home on Meadows Walk, Hartlepool, just after 9am on the day of his death.

The doctor was unable to find anything seriously wrong but offered him a chance to go to hospital, which Mr Goulburn refused.

However he later fell and the first 999 call was made at 10.32am. An ambulance arrived just after 12pm, but that was a volunteer St John’s ambulance which did not have fully trained paramedics.

An eight-minute response ambulance was eventually sent but tragically Mr Gouldburn was pronounced dead before he could be taken to hospital.

In response to the inquest’s findings, Mr Gouldburn’s family issued a statement, saying: "This should never happen again to anyone. We simply want recognition from the trust that a mistake was made, and that the trust failed a fantastic man.

“He gave his life to helping others and the trust failed him in his moment of need.

“We hope they will make sure as best they can this will never happen again to another family in Hartlepool.”

Tom Howard, head of the North East Ambulance Service's contact centre, apologised to Mr Gouldburn's family, admitting the pensioner did not receive the level of care he should have.

The coroner ruled that Mr Gouldburn died on April 21, last year of natural causes as a result of underlying heart disease.