Routine cancer scan turns into 10-hour ordeal for pensioner

ORDEAL ... Croftside House resident Jean Philipson waited more than five hours for an ambulance.
ORDEAL ... Croftside House resident Jean Philipson waited more than five hours for an ambulance.

WHAT should have been a routine 30-minute scan turned into 10 hours of misery for an elderly cancer patient because of an amulance mix-up.

Jean Philipson, 88, had booked the Patient Transport Service (PTS), which ferries people to and from South Tyneside Hospital, on Wednesday.

Mrs Philipson, who had a stroke in October, was told to be ready for 8.30am to be collected for a 1.30pm induction session at the hospital’s Moorland Day Centre - which helps rehabilitate elderly people. She was also due to have a heart scan.

But the widow, who lives at Croftside House sheltered accommodation in Whitburn, ended up missing her induction session because the transport did not arrive - and didn’t get home until 6.23pm.

She said: “I was up and ready at 8,30am. I waited and waited but they just never came. I booked the ambulance through my GP, so I rang and asked the surgery where it was, but they have nothing to do with the running of it.

“To be honest I’m not sure what time it finally arrived, but it was too late for my induction, which now has to be rescheduled.”

“One of the nurses said I might as well still have my heart scan since I was there, so I just had that done.”

Mrs Philipson, who has suffered three heart attacks in recent years, says the scan took about 30 minutes.

She was then placed in the cardiology department’s waiting room and the PTS, which is ran by North East Ambulance Service, were called to take her home.

But it was almost four hours before Mrs Philipson, who has cancer of the lungs, got back to Whitburn.

She said: “I thought I was going to be there with the cleaners I was sat in the waiting area for so long. I take about 20 different tablets a day, but didn’t take all of them with me because I never expected to be there that length of time.

“I was offered a cup of tea, but I find it hard to drink after my stroke so I was rather thirsty by the time I got home.

“The receptionist was lovely. She kept ringing to see where the ambulance was and was told they were on site. But when I asked them where they’d been, they told me they’d come from Whitley Bay.”

A spokesman for North East Ambulance Service said: “This particular patient was booked onto a PTS vehicle by her GP surgery, which was scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 2pm – meaning she would not make the 1.30pm appointment.

“The patient was booked to be ready at 4.07pm for the return journey, but when the crew arrived to pick the patient up at 4.47pm she was not ready to travel home. The crew aborted the journey and at 17:30 we were told by the hospital that she was ready. Another crew was allocated, and arrived at the hospital at 5.47pm, picking up the patient at 5.58pm and arriving at her home address at 6.23pm.

Mrs Philipson is adamant she was ready to go home at the apointed time.

She said: “After the scan I just sat in the waiting room with the receptionist. I had no where else to go. I don’t understand how I couldn’t have been ready. I’d been ready since 5am that morning. It was a long day.”

A spokesman for Mrs Philipson’s GP surgery, Whitburn Surgery, said it was unable to comment on the matter.

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