Mother waited 27 hours after calling NHS 111 for sick daughter, three
EXCLUSIVE: Distraught mother waited 27 hours after calling NHS 111 but still didn’t get to speak to a doctor when her daughter three, fell ill with scarlet fever
- Samantha King, 33, told how her daughter developed Scarlet Fever
- She hit out at the shocking waiting times after contacting out-of-hours service
A distraught mother told how she never received a call from an NHS 111 doctor after waiting more than 27 hours when her three-year-old daughter contracted the Strep A infection.
Furious Samantha King, 33, told how her daughter developed Scarlet Fever as her condition worsened during the agonising delay.
She hit out at the shocking waiting times after contacting the out-of-hours service on four separate occasions when her daughter fell ill at the weekend.
Samantha told MailOnline: ‘I am outraged. I had a sick three-year-old and could not speak to a doctor despite numerous attempts. No clinician bothered to call me back.’
Married Samantha – who also has a five-year-old daughter – told how she recognised her daughter’s symptoms as she had been diagnosed with Scarlet Fever the previous year.
The mother from Wallington, Surrey, dialled the helpline at 8.54am on Sunday hoping to obtain an emergency prescription for antibiotics to help her child battle the condition.
Samantha King, 33, told how her daughter developed Scarlet Fever as her condition worsened during the agonising delay
She was put on hold for 30 minutes before finally speaking to an advisor who told her a clinician would call back within two hours.
But she never received a call and ended up contacting the service three more times throughout the day as her daughter’s symptoms got worse.
Samantha, who works as a retail advisor, told how she did not hear back from NHS 111 until midday on Monday when an advisor rang asking if she still needed to speak to a doctor.
By then she had obtained a penicillin prescription from her GP after they had opened up on Monday morning.
Samantha said: ‘I’m just so appalled at the service – considering we’re talking about a three year old.
‘Somebody phoned me 27 hours after I first contacted them asking if I still needed a call back.
‘I said ‘Are you not the clinician or the doctor?’. She was saying ‘No. No We were just seeing if you still needed a call back’.
‘I said I had to get the antibiotics myself from my GP because nobody was helping me – no one would call me back.
Samantha – who also has a five-year-old daughter – told how she recognised her daughter’s symptoms as she had been diagnosed with Scarlet Fever the previous year
‘I had only been able to do that because it had taken so much time the GP’s were open again.
‘I understand that the system is overwhelmed.
‘I don’t see how it’s acceptable to make promises to people then failing to act on them.
‘You’re holding on to that hope that somebody is going to contact you and care for you and put you at ease and that never happens.
‘When it’s a three-year-old who can’t really communicate very well all their feelings and their symptoms it makes it really difficult.
‘All they can say is this hurts and that hurts. You don’t know what you can do to help them a lot of the time. You feel quite helpless.
‘But I knew she had Scarlet Fever which could turn into something much worse if it is not dealt with because it is the Strep A bacteria that causes it.
‘I was so frustrated that no one was even contacting me so they could get her started on antibiotics. It’s just so infuriating.
‘All I wanted was for somebody to do an electronic prescription so I could go anywhere and collect it and get her started on the antibiotics.
‘It took more than 24 hours for that to happen and NHS 111 was no help at all.
‘It’s not fair, especially when it comes to children. They are so helpless themselves. You think there would be more urgency to resolve their pain and their illnesses.’
Samantha told how her daughter, who attends a nursery, began complaining of feeling ‘generally unwell’ on Friday.
On Saturday she had a temperature then a ‘sandpaper’ rash began developing on her stomach, chest, neck and back.
Samantha said: ‘I spoke to somebody at 8.54am. She told me they were extremely busy which I expected as it was the weekend. She said they would get somebody to call me within the next two hours.
‘It got to 1.30pm and I phoned again and they said they were extremely busy and it would be soon.
‘At 6pm I was starting to get concerned. I phoned again and I said ‘I still haven’t received a phone call. This is getting ridiculous’. The woman I spoke to agreed.
‘She put me on hold. She came back saying she had spoken to her supervisor. She said she had put a note on my file saying I had been waiting for nine hours to speak to a doctor about my daughter.
‘At 9.30pm, my daughter’s symptoms got worse. Her temperature had gone up and she started getting a really sore throat.
‘I phoned again and told the guy about everything I had been through. I was put on hold again.
‘He said he would get in contact with the service that would be calling me back to see how long it’s going to take.
‘He came back and said I would receive a call within the next two hours – then nothing.’
Samantha told how she had spent an agonising night monitoring her daughter.
She said: ‘I was up every hour checking on her. God forbid if anything had happened and she had got severely worse very quickly.
‘I didn’t sleep. I was incredibly upset by it all.You just start thinking about all the worst things that could happen.
‘I was continuously checking on my daughter, doing her temperature while she was sleeping.
‘I was getting more and more anxious and upset. I was distraught. I was thinking ‘What if something happens and nobody’s even contacted me. Am I going to have to phone 999?’. It was very stressful.
‘My daughter was incredibly frustrated and upset. She had a rash that was making her uncomfortable.
‘All I could do was give her Calpol every four hours. Her temperature was still high even with that.’
After finally resolving the matter through her GP Samantha said: ‘Her treatment was delayed for more than a day and that could have turned into something much worse.
‘She’s now on penicillin so hopefully in a few days she will start to feel the benefits of that.’
The out-of-hours service in Surrey is operated by private company Practice Plus Group, which bills itself as England’s largest independent provider of NHS services.
A spokesperson said: ‘We cannot comment on the specific case and would welcome contact from the family who have raised this so that we may understand, investigate and provide them feedback on their experience.
‘What we can say is that we treat every call to the NHS 111 service seriously and strive to deliver the highest quality service.
‘Primary care across the country is under severe pressure and we continue to work closely with our system partners to provide the best care that we can at this time.
‘We prioritise the most unwell using agreed clinical criteria and operate a safety call policy to ensure patients are kept safe, up to date about delays and to check whether there are any new or worsening symptoms that need to be assessed urgently.’
The Department of Health and Social Care recently announced plans to enhance the NHS 111 service with ‘more clinicians – including retired staff and returners – working in the service’.
The plans include ‘increased access to specialist paediatric advice for children’.
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