Newmarket mum's fears over 999 call out policy
A Newmarket woman has questioned the way the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) prioritises its calls, claiming her baby grandson was refused emergency transport to hospital when he suffered an acute allergic reaction.
The woman, who did not wish to be named, told the Journal that the five-month-old boy’s face swelled ‘alarmingly’ and he became very distressed after his first taste of baby cereal.
“My daughter called 999 and was told that they could not help but told her to drive to A&E herself. She queried this and asked what to do if he stopped breathing and was told to pull over to the side of the road and phone 999 again and they would send an ambulance.”
The child recovered after several hours in A&E, leaving his family questioning the actions of the operator who turned down their plea for an ambulance.
“I have been told that the criteria for an ambulance to attend has changed and I am wondering just what is now classed as an emergency. If a five-month-old baby in great distress is not entitled to an ambulance, who is?” his grandmother asked.
A spokesman for EEAST said the service received around 3,000 calls every day.
“In October 2017, EEAST and other services moved to the new national Ambulance Response Programme to help ensure patients get the care they need as soon as possible, while maximising the use of precious ambulance resources. Call handlers use information supplied by callers to assess patients against a number of criteria including the severity of the symptoms, available ambulance resources in their area and the level of demand from other critical cases.
“Ambulance services are under constant pressure. Consequently, in some cases where resources are under high demand, patients who are not in the most critical category and are able to do so, may be advised to make their own way to hospital as it will mean they will be seen and access treatment faster than waiting for an ambulance.
“We would strongly encourage the patient’s mother to contact us so we can look into this case further,” the spokesman added.