A Tale of 17 Ambulances

This week was one in which my family used the NHS a lot. My nephew had a heart attack, my sister in law had pneumonia and my mother had unstable angina and had to see her GP. Both my nephew and sister in law were taken to hospital by car and did not use the ambulance service because they did not appreciate the severity of their conditions. They were sorted out promptly and are now well controlled.

On the other side of the country my GP husband arranged for an elderly person to go into hospital for a DVT (deep vein thrombosis). He rang for an ambulance at 11am. The ambulance arrived at 11pm. The ambulance then joined the queue of 17 sitting outside Accident and Emergency for hours, because they let patients in a controlled way specifically to avoid the 4-hour breach.

We were told this by the patient’s partner, and have no way of verifying it, but have no reason to disbelieve it as we have heard it now from a variety of sources.

A doctor finally saw the patient at 11am the next day. I do not know who is in charge of this but it is ridiculous. The IT system works well though, because I received an email about the same patient on the day of admission telling me that the diagnosis was indeed a DVT. For as long as our town continues to follow this silly system we should consider taking our loved ones directly to hospital, as the risk that entails is probably less than the alternative. For my part I will complain to the CCG and weight up the risks and benefits of the local ambulance system more thoughtfully in future.