A hospital has apologised after a woman with a history of heart attacks was turned away despite suffering from palpitations – and told to call an ambulance.
Becky Evans-Woodward, 33, who suffered five heart attacks in a day when she was just 29, arrived at hospital with a racing pulse of 188bpm.
But her husband Alvin Evans-Woodward was told he should leave the hospital and call her an ambulance.
Staff in the cardiac unit at Wycombe Hospital, Bucks., told worried Alvin that they “don’t do walk-ins” and they could not see Becky as she had not been referred by a GP or brought by ambulance.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has now apologised and said it is investigating.
Alvin yesterday said it was “ridiculous” for the hospital not to at least check his wife, who has now been left too scared to go back to the hospital.
He said: “The nurse said we had to go over to the minor injuries and illness unit to be referred by a GP.
“I said ‘My wife is having major palpitations.’ They said ‘Sorry, we don’t do walk-ins. You have to go over the road and go through the policy and procedures.’
“My wife is scared to the degree that she doesn’t want to go back to that hospital because she’s scared that she’s going to become a statistic.
“I want to see that Wycombe Hospital has an accident and emergency department that is fit for purpose.
“They say it’s a cardiac hospital, so people with cardiac problems and strokes should go to that hospital, but if you can’t get into that hospital because you have not been referred by a GP or you are not in an ambulance, that’s ridiculous.”
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter told the House of Commons the care she had received was “more than substandard”.
Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe, told the Commons: “This is not good enough. It’s an appalling prioritisation of bureaucracy over simple human care and compassion.”
Dr Poulter replied: “Clearly the care that his constituent received was more than substandard. If a patient needs immediate treatment, they should always receive it.”
Becky, from Aylesbury, Bucks., suffered five heart attacks in a day four years ago and was left intensive care in hospital.
On 5 November this year she began to get heart palpitations and Alvin took her by car to Wycombe Hospital.
But despite her medical history and racing pulse staff would not admit her to the hospital’s cardiac unit because she had not been referred by a GP or brought by ambulance.
Alvin said the couple went to the unit but a doctor told them there was no-one available to do an electrocardiogram (ECG) test.
He said they were told to call an ambulance by the hospital in order to get doctors to treat Becky.
Shockingly Alvin said Becky was left alone on a bed with no medication for an hour-and-a-half.
The average heart rate for a woman should be nearer 70beats per minute.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said it had received a complaint and was working with GP-led organisation Buckinghamshire Urgent Care to investigate.
A spokesman said: “We would like an opportunity to meet the patient and discuss what happened in person.
“Both organisations take the quality of patient care extremely seriously and if we have fallen short in this case then we offer our apologies.
“We also seek to learn from our mistakes and have already made improvements to our services.”