A FAMILY have hit out after claiming a grandmother was left to call for her own ambulance as she suffered a heart attack.
Loved ones of Hannah Barnes say the 58-year-old was forced to frantically search for her mobile phone at the bottom of her bag and call for an ambulance from outside the walk-in centre at Jarrow’s Palmer Community Hospital after reception staff turned her away as she begged for help.
The grandmother-of-three, of Hadrian Road, Jarrow, took ill on Monday morning, and still remains in the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle after having her second heart attack in just six months.
Her sister Tina Barnes, of Concorde Way, Jarrow, said: “The whole family is devastated. I could have lost my sister.
“Would making a free phone call really have harmed them?
“A medical centre is meant to be the place you can turn to. But she had to get help on her own.
“She is full of life and would do anything for anyone. She didn’t deserve this.
“She also suffered a serious heart attack in January.
“She had been at my house for coffee at 8.30am on Monday. She said she was feeling a bit hot and said she would go to the bank and then go home. All of a sudden she felt a problem building up and building up. She knew what it was because she went through the same in January.
“She was outside the walk-in centre and went to get help. She asked a receptionist if they could ring an ambulance as she was having a heart attack. But she said she couldn’t do that and she would have to ring herself.
“She doesn’t always have her mobile phone with her. If she hadn’t had it, she would have died.
“She says she will never forget the face of the woman who said she couldn’t call her an ambulance. I want those responsible to be named and shamed.
“Her grandchildren are all devastated as well.”
A spokesman for Northern Doctors Urgent Care Ltd said: “Our organisational procedures dictate that when any patient presents to the reception, the receptionist will undertake a brief visual assessment of the patient’s presenting condition.
“They will refer to our organisational urgency criteria which clearly identifies the symptoms associated with patients presenting with emergency, urgent or non-urgent conditions, and the actions to be taken accordingly.
“Therefore, when a patient presents to a receptionist requesting an ambulance, the receptionist will briefly identify the physical presenting condition of the patient and seek immediate clinical advice from one of our GPs; while, if necessary, calling 999.”
Christine Briggs, director of operations at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We commission urgent care services in South Tyneside. While we cannot comment on individual cases, all our providers are expected to deliver good services and where appropriate, services should signpost and direct patients onwards to other relevant services, and seek appropriate assistance where necessary.”