A PENSIONER was found dead in her home in Clacton after waiting almost four hours for an ambulance to arrive.

Marie Norris, 81, called 999 complaining of chest pains on Tuesday.

Paramedics arrived hours later and forced their way into her home, but she had already died.

The East of England Ambulance Service said crews arrived three hours and 45 minutes after her initial call.

Dave Powell, regional officer for GMB, said the incident is "another example of how we are not coping" with the NHS winter crisis.

"My concern is now that we are actually suffering deaths whilst people wait for ambulances," he added.

"On arrival, the crew had sufficient concerns to force entry to the property as the control room could not contact the patient via telephone.

"Unfortunately, the patient was found deceased in the property and there was nothing the crew could do for her.

"I'm sure this case is much more widespread than the public is aware of."

The ambulance service previously said it has had to rely on taxis to take patients to hospital after struggling to cope with a surge in demand over the holiday period.

Michael Le Cornu, chairman of the Tendring Pensioners' Action Group, said he was disgusted that the woman had been left to die on her own.

He said: "It's terrible that she was left waiting for such a long time. It really is disgusting.

"We have been worried about this sort of thing happening for some time and have heard similar examples, including in which a 94-year-old died.

"We are disgusted with the complacent attitude of this particular Government. Until just recently they thought there were no problems with the NHS." 

The ambulance service usually responds to about 3,000 calls a day, but it received more than 4,200 calls on Tuesday.

Sandy Brown, deputy chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, 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.

“We are working in partnership but we are facing hospital handover delays, which can prevent us from responding as quickly as we need to.

“Regarding this incident, we received a call just before 8pm on January 2 to a report of a woman with chest pain in Clacton.

"Due to extremely high demand on the service and delays at accident and emergency units, we were not able to immediately dispatch an ambulance.

"We had more than 4,200 calls across the East of England that day, more than 1,300 of which were in Essex and more than 250 were in north east Essex.

“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.”

Clacton MP Giles Watling called for an inquiry into the incident.

He said: “It’s appalling that it took so long for an ambulance to respond.

“If this is an issue of resources then we must get those resources in place and I will be making noises in Parliament to make sure they are.

“We are spending more on the NHS and its support services than ever in history, but if that is not enough then we must find more.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted a link to the Gazette's report of the incident on Saturday.

He said: "This should not be happening in our country."