Heart-attack gran thought she would die in street

'COULD HAVE DIED' ... Hannah Barnes had to ring 999 for an ambulance, while suffering from a heart attack, after walk-in centre staff refused to help.
'COULD HAVE DIED' ... Hannah Barnes had to ring 999 for an ambulance, while suffering from a heart attack, after walk-in centre staff refused to help.

A DEVASTATED grandmother has told of how she thought she was ‘going to die’ on the street after being turned away by medical staff as she suffered a heart attack.

Hannah Barnes, 58, was forced to frantically search for her mobile phone and ring for an ambulance herself as she battled severe chest pain outside the walk-in centre at Palmer Community Hospital in Jarrow.

The grandmother-of-three, who is full-time carer for her wheelchair-bound son, Kenneth, 34, spent more than a week in hospital after suffering blood clots to the heart.

Mrs Barnes says she still cannot come to terms with how a member of staff at the centre refused to call 999 at a time when she felt her life was on the line.

Now she is demanding an investigation be carried out, and is calling for an apology.

Mrs Barnes, from Hadrian Road, Jarrow, says she would rather seek help from a stranger than go in the walk-in centre again.

She fell ill on Monday, June 9, and underwent heart surgery at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital before finally being released.

Mrs Barnes said: “I can’t believe that woman didn’t phone an ambulance. When I was in hospital, I just sat and cried about it. I could’ve been dead, it was horrible.

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

“I wouldn’t wish the woman who wouldn’t call the ambulance to go through this.

“If I had been helped at the walk-in centre, I would’ve felt safe. But outside I felt vulnerable and alone.”

She added: “That’s why I went to the centre. I thought to myself ‘they have medical people in there and if I do pass out, they will know what to do’.

“I still can’t believe it. The pain was so severe, I could hardly breath.

“I went into the centre and went to the counter.

“I asked the woman, ‘Can you call me an ambulance please, I’m having a heart attack’. She just said, ‘No, we can’t do that, don’t you have a phone of your own’.

“I was so weak, I couldn’t even say anything back.

“You are always told if you’re having a heart attack or a stroke, ring 999 immediately. Every second can be vital.

“I just sat outside and rang the ambulance and thought, ‘Please God, do something. My head was spinning.”

Mrs Barnes thought she was going to die as she waited for the paramedics to arrive. She added: “I thought ‘this is it.

“I’m going to die out here on the ground’.

“I will never step in the centre again. I’d rather ask a stranger on the street for help.

“I could just keep asking myself, why wouldn’t she call me an ambulance? Why wouldn’t she help?”

She is now calling for answers over why she was left to fend for herself – only yards from possible assistance.

Hannah’s sister, Tina, made a complaint at the centre while Hannah was in hospital and is awaiting a written response.

A spokesman for Northern Doctors Urgent Care Ltd, which provides urgent care services at the walk-in centre, 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.”