Grieving son's concerns over mum's 999 call-out
A grandmother died of pneumonia just days after paramedics referred her to a doctor instead of taking her to hospital.
Alice Walker, 93, died four days after being admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, but six days after her devastated son first called 999.
Paul, 53, who is now considering legal action, said: “If she had gone in straight away, it could have saved her life. Those two and a half days really were vital.
“I think the medical profession failed her.”
A North West Ambulance Service spokesman expressed his condolences to her heartbroken family, and said the decision to refer Alice to a GP was made following an examination by paramedics.
Mr Walker, who lived with his mum on Eagle Brow Close, Thornton, so he could care for her, called 999 on Valentine’s Day after she fell ill overnight.
He said: “She had a loose, phlegm-y cough but she seemed okay and had something to eat. We went for a walk along the Prom and I noticed she was not quite right.
“She managed to walk to the stairlift and get into bed but the next day she could hardly move.”
Mr Walker said paramedics gave Alice, who moved to the Fylde coast from Manchester in 2000, painkillers and sought the opinion of a senior paramedic, but left after seeing her to walk a short distance.
The family’s GP visited the next day, and further medication was prescribed.
Mr Walker said his mother’s condition continued to deteriorate and, on February 16, he called Community Integrated Care, one of the UK’s largest health and social care charities.
He said: “A lady came called Kim.
“We had never seen her before but she was absolutely brilliant with my mum.
“She could see my mum was very poorly and very sick.”
Although Mr Walker admitted his mother’s condition worsened following the paramedics’ first visit, he said if she had been taken to hospital earlier she would have ‘been in the best place’ and may still be alive.
He believes the paramedics mistook a kidney injury later diagnosed in hospital for back pain, and said: “Why they did not see her fit to go into hospital I don’t know.
“She could not lift herself out of bed.”
Alice – described as ‘lively and always smiling’ – was admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital at around 9pm on Tuesday, February 16, Mr Walker said.
Within hours, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, and the family was told to prepare for the worst.
“She was breathing but it was laboured,” Mr Walker said. “They said there was no hope and the next 24 hours were critical.
“On the Thursday, she was talking but still very weak and you could hardly hear what she was saying.
“She said she wanted to go home. I feel like I have let her down.”
The next day, Alice stopped responding. She died two days later on Sunday, February 20.
Her cause of death was recorded as pneumonia, heart failure, acute kidney injury, and dementia, Mr Walker said.
Alice’s funeral will be held at Sacred Heart Church, in Heys Street, Thornton, at 1.30pm on Thursday.
Sam Brennan, regional director for Community Integrated Care, said: “The safety and wellbeing of the people we support is our number one priority.
“When a member of our domiciliary care team visited Ms Walker and noticed that she was unwell, she took immediate action, dialling 999 to arrange medical assistance.
“We would like to thank this staff member for their swift action.
“We are aware that Ms Walker has sadly since passed away.
“We would like to offer our sincere condolences to her loved ones for their loss.”
WHAT 999 CREWS SAID IN RESPONSE:
A spokesman for the North West Ambulance service said: “The trust would like to offer its sincere condolences to the patient’s family at this very difficult time.
“We attended the patient’s address on Sunday, February 14 and, after examination, referred her to a GP.
“The trust attended again on Tuesday, February 16 following a second 999 call and subsequently transported the patient to hospital.
“If the patient’s family would like to contact the trust with their concerns we would be happy to discuss this with them.”