South Witham wife ‘disgusted’ by 999 response

Christopher and Jean Hilliam, of South Witham.

Christopher and Jean Hilliam, of South Witham.

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A South Witham woman says she is disgusted after she called 999 for an ambulance only to be told her husband’s condition was not an emergency.

Jean Hilliam, of Harold Road, South Witham, called for an ambulance a few weeks ago when her husband Christopher, 64, was in agony one morning.

Mrs Hilliam called 999 and told the operator it was an emergency, but the operator said she was sorry but it wasn’t and she should contact her doctor. Mr Hilliam is on medication for water retention and an enlarged prostate. Mrs Hilliams says this can lead to severe kidney problems if an emergency arises which is why she called for an ambulance.

A little later her daughter, Claire, called NHS Direct on 111 to explain the situation and they called an ambulance which arrived 15 minutes later. Mr Hilliam was taken to Peterborough where he was fitted with a catheter and allowed to go home.

Mrs Hilliam said: “I am absolutely disgusted, They have no right to make judgements like that over the phone. It could have been very serious. The hospital took several amounts of blood to make sure it had not damaged my husband’s kidneys.

“He has been in a lot of pain since. He has prostate problems and problems with urinary retention.”

Mrs Hilliam added: “I know they get a lot of crank calls but to be told this was not an emergency I think is just not acceptable.”

Mrs Hilliam said her other daughter, Paula, a qualified nurse, was appalled when she heard what had happened with the operator.

Blanche Lentz, General Manager for Lincolnshire at East Midlands Ambulance Service said: “We are sorry that Mrs Hilliam isn’t happy with the response that she received to her call, and we will contact Mrs Hilliam to talk with her about the experience.

“Emergency 999 calls are categorised based on the information given. With a new call received every 43 seconds this allows us to send our ambulances and highly skilled clinicians to life-threatening calls quickest.”