Woman Suffered Cardiac Arrest After NHS Direct Call-Handler Failed To Dispatch Ambulance

Husband Told To Go Out And Buy Antacid But Returned Home To Find Wife Unconscious

11.04.2016

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The widower of a woman who suffered a cardiac arrest after an NHS Direct call-handler failed to dispatch an ambulance when she called about chest and abdominal pain says he hopes lessons have been learned by the telephone advice service.

Patricia Kinsey – who went by the name Ann - was found unconscious at her Wolverhampton home by husband Brian after he’d gone out to buy her stomach-settling antacids as advised by the non-emergency telephone line.

He called 999 for an ambulance and when paramedics arrived they worked to resuscitate Ann for an hour before taking her to New Cross Hospital, where they spent a further 30 minutes trying to resuscitate her without success. 

He instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her death and they have now secured Brian an undisclosed settlement after the NHS Direct Trust admitted 68-year-old Ann had been wrongly diagnosed.

The NHS Direct Trust admitted a breach of duty in respect of their failure to provide the correct advice and treatment to Ann but have denied that this would have prevented her death. The NHS Direct service was dissolved in March 2014 and has been replaced by the NHS 111 non-emergency number.

“Nothing can bring Ann back,” said Brian. “But it was very important to me that NHS Direct acknowledged its mistakes so that no one else would suffer as she did.

“Ann loved life. She worked at Waitrose well past her retirement age because she just loved to be around people. We did dream of one day moving closer to our daughter and grandchildren in Surrey – something I have now had to do alone – but even then nothing could have stopped Ann working. She just loved to be busy.”

Ann was feeling unwell when she returned home from her job as a checkout supervisor at Waitrose at 5pm December 28, 2011. Within minutes she was complaining of chest pains.

Brian called the 111 non-emergency line and received a call back from an out-of-hours GP who advised that Ann seemed to be having either gastroenteritis or acid reflux and told John to give her some antacids and paracetamol for pain relief. But when John returned from the shop he found Ann unresponsive.

Expert Opinion
“The public relies on the expertise of those operating the NHS 111 service to ensure they get the correct advice or treatment. In this case, Ann did not receive either the right diagnosis or the correct response until it was too late.

“It is a source of great distress to Ann’s husband Brian that he will never know if she could have been saved had she already been at New Cross Hospital when she went into cardiac arrest.

“He now hopes that lessons have been learned from Ann’s death so that no other family has to suffer a loss in the same way.”
Sara Burns, Partner

Brian added: “If an ambulance had been dispatched that night, it may not have stopped her going into cardiac arrest, but at least she would have been in the best possible hands and at least stood a chance of living.

“I miss her every day.”