A woman in Ceredigion, Wales died after a doctor canceled an ambulance as part of a pilot NHS scheme to cut medical costs.
Ruth Hedge, 60, called 999 complaining of vomiting. An ambulance was dispatched to take the mother to hospital but then canceled by a doctor working with the new program. The doctor had spoken to Ms. Hedge on the phone and deemed the ride was not needed. The doctor advised the woman to contact her GP out-of-hours service.
It is now known that the woman made a series of calls but never managed to make the right connection to the proper service. Her body was found a week later last April.
Ms.Hedge’s death has been listed as natural causes by Pembrokeshire coroner Michael Howells.
The control room at 999 should have directly transferred the woman’s call to an out-of-hours service or given her the correct telephone number. Neither option was completed in this case.
The Daily Mail reports:
Mr Howells added: ‘There was a systemic failure by the NHS to provide full help to patients. The aim should be to remove barriers, not to create them.’
The doctor in this case though can not be criticized according to Howells. It appeared that Hedge had been drinking and was ‘confused.’
Jane Hedge is shocked at the treatment her mother received prior to her death by the emergency phone service.
She said: ‘I just hope there’s going to be better care for people. It’s just shocking that the priority of the pilot scheme was cost-cutting. Hopefully no-one else is going to die as the result of a cost-cutting scheme.’
The pilot scheme for ambulances has since been canceled. It was proved not to be ‘cost cutting’ but focused on emergency ambulance responding more effectively.