Lorraine Noone, 45, died at her home in Hale End Road, Walthamstow, on December 28 last year.
An inquest at the East London Coroner’s Court today (November 9) heard that it took 59 minutes for an ambulance to arrive after she called to report that she had taken an overdose.
The target response time for such a call is 18 minutes.
Neil Kendrick, who investigated the incident for London Ambulance Service, told the court: “On that day, we were under extreme demand. We were at our highest level.”
The mother-of-one had once worked for the Pioneer Investment Bank in Dublin, the court was told, but had in later life struggled with both alcohol and medication dependency.
Lorraine’s mother Evelyn wrote in a statement that “despite many interventions” and stints in rehab, she had “limited success in recovery”.
Doctors at the North East London Foundation NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) had been trying to convince her to take part in a new rehabilitation pilot scheme when she died, the court heard.
In addition to her substance dependencies, the inquest was told Lorraine was diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder, anxiety and depression.
In a statement to the court, her GP Dr David Davies said his practice was specifically for patients who had been banned from other GP services for difficult or abusive behaviour.
The inquest heard evidence that one doctor said he would require a bodyguard in order to visit Lorraine’s home.
In one 12-month period, Lorraine was “the most frequent caller of the London Ambulance Service in the entire greater London area,” Dr Davies wrote.
She made 678 calls in one year, of which 114 were attended. Forty-six of her 999 calls were about alleged overdoses.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Jacob Lawrence, from NELFT, testified: “Hardly a week went by without us receiving lots of information. Hardly a day went by without some discussion of her management.”
The court heard her calls resulted in 34 conveyances to hospital in a year, five of which were on blue lights.
An inquest at East London Coroners’ Court in Waltham Forest heard that Lorraine Noone was found dead in her bathtub after dialing 999 (Image: Charles Thomson)
In October 2022 alone, she made 48 calls to the emergency services.
“That was consistent with a pattern that was ongoing,” Dr. Jacobs testified. “That was not a worsening or exacerbation of her calls, in frequency or severity.”
On 65 occasions in one year, Lorraine dialed 999 but then refused to be transported to hospital.
That was what initially happened on the day of her death, the court heard.
Paramedic Danny Cox testified that he was dispatched after Lorraine dialed 999 at 1.18pm on December 28, 2022.
She gave a fake name – Mary O’Hara – and complained of chest pains.
But when he arrived, he said, she asked: “Why are you here?”
She “refused” any help from him, he said.
Lorraine’s brother – a doctor – told the court she “had a lot of past history and trauma, particularly around men and males”.
“She was not keen on solo male people visiting her,” he said. “I can imagine how that potentially played into the interaction.”
Later that day, at 2.26pm, Lorraine made another emergency call, this time reporting that she had taken an overdose and was in the bath.
She took a long time to give the call handler her address, Mr. Kendrick testified, and a “frustrated” call handler cut her off.
But as Lorraine called back two minutes later, he said, that made “no significant difference to the outcome”.
Paramedic Rachel Fraser testified that she and a colleague arrived at Lorraine’s address at 3.25pm and found her front door had been left open.
“On opening the door, we shouted out to Lorraine,” she testified. “There was no answer.”
She was found unresponsive in the bathtub and was pronounced dead at 3.46pm.
Lorraine’s father, mother, brother and sister each thanked all of the medical professionals who had tried to help her, as each witness concluded their testimony.
“The family’s hearts are broken that they could not have saved Lorraine from this very sad end to her life,” said coroner Nadia Persaud.
She ruled that Lorraine had taken her own life.
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