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I had to drive to the hospital to save wife
9:00am Friday 30th August 2013 in News
A DISABLED man took his wife to hospital after becoming frustrated with 999 operators, who classified her ailments as non life-threatening.
Brian Willoughby, 64, of Stevens Close, Canvey, feared his wife Elizabeth, 65, was having a heart attack when she was crying and screaming in agony due to severe pain in her chest and left leg.
He dialled 999 and asked for an ambulance to take her to hospital, but became frustrated with operators, whom he claims refused to send an ambulance straight away because he could not answer questions about her medical condition.
Her condition was classed as non life-threatening, giving paramedics 50 minutes to respond.
But, Mr Willoughby, who suffers from Bell’s palsy and problems with his arm as a result of a brain tumour, said when he got her to Southend Hospital, he was told by doctors her condition was an emergency and she could have died.
Mr Willoughby, who has been married for 31 years, said: “I’m so angry about it all. Something needs to be done to improve the system.
“I really shouldn’t have been the one to have to take her. Luckily, I can still drive, but what if I couldn’t?”
Mrs Willoughby was diagnosed with a blood clot in her leg and a life-threatening aneurysm in her one remaining lung.
Mr Willoughby added: “As soon as we got to the hospital, they could see she was an emergency and saw her straight away.
“When I dialled 999, they must’ve asked me more than a dozen questions about her medical condition, which I just couldn’t answer, and I told them I was disabled and was struggling to understand.
“But they wouldn’t send someone, unless I answered, and they couldn’t speak to my wife because she was in too much pain.
“They want to keep her in for another two weeks, and I miss her so much. I was in tears by her bedside.”
Ambulance trust spokesman Gary Sanderson said: “We received a call at 12.34pm to a woman with pain in her abdomen.
“The patient was fully conscious and breathing, and the call was coded a Green 3 call, which means it has a 50- minute response as it is not a life-threatening emergency.
“A rapid response car was immediately dispatched, but was stood down after Mr Willoughby decided to take his wife to hospital himself.
“During the 999 call, our call handler was unable to gather all the relevant information to triage the call as the caller at the scene wouldn’t allow them to speak with Mrs Willoughby directly.
“If Mr and MrsWilloughby wish to discuss our response further, we would be more than happy for them to make contact.”
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