NHS phone service keeps sick wife, 78, waiting 14 hours

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A HUSBAND has criticised the new NHS 111 phone service after his wife was left for 14 hours awaiting medical help and ended up fighting for her life in intensive care.

Geoffrey Peace, 80, rang the phone service at 8am on March 31 when his wife Sheila fell ill, and was told that a doctor could be with him within four hours.

At 10pm that night a doctor finally turned up - calling an ambulance and rushing 78-year-old Sheila to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, where she was put on dialysis suffering from kidney failure.

Mr Peace rang four times between his first call and the doctor’s arrival - only to be infuriated by an automated message telling him his call was in a queue.

The retired building inspector, of Holmfirth, said: “I was very worried about Sheila but every time I rang this new service it was a machine talking at you, you couldn’t say anything back.

“It told me I was in a queue of ten callers, so I wasn’t going to wait around because I could have been on the phone for hours.

“You put your trust in the medical profession, so you don’t want to argue against them but I think this new system is flawed.

“My wife was very ill when she got to hospital. When I went to see her I thought she was gone. It was heartbreaking.”

His wife, who suffers from diabetes, is improving but is still attached to drips.

Colne Valley Tory MP Jason McCartney, who has written to the NHS after receiving other complaints, said: “Patients deserve better and my constituents deserve better.”

A spokeswoman for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, which runs 111 in partnership with Local Care Direct, apologised and asked the family to contact them.