'Error' delayed 999 response
East Midlands Ambulance Service has apologised after it failed to treat a call about a patient suffering symptoms of a heart attack as an emergency.
Leon Hill, 33, from New Parks, Leicester, said vital minutes were lost after his mother became ill because the service (Emas) failed to dispatch an ambulance immediately.
Mr Hill said despite telling the call handler his mother Margaret, aged 60, was flustered, hot and sweating and he believed she was having a heart attack, he was told she did not need an ambulance.
Instead, after ringing at about 4.20pm on November 7, he was told a doctor would ring him back within the hour.
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He said: "I knew she was having a heart attack.
"You always hear how important it is to get treatment quickly and I couldn't believe the response of the Emas operator."
Mr Hill called his brother for help to get their mother, also from New Parks, to hospital themselves.
A doctor from NHS Direct then called and, after hearing the symptoms, immediately put Mr Hill back through to Emas and a different operator sent a paramedic.
The paramedic used a defibrillator to restart Mrs Hill's heart and then gave CPR before giving her drug therapy.
Mrs Hill, who had been babysitting her seven-year-old grandson at her daughter's house in New Parks, was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary and later transferred to Glenfield Hospital where she had an operation to fit a tube to unblock an artery in her heart.
Mr Hill said: "My mother was put into an induced coma and has been in intensive care since.
"Doctors are trying to wean her off the ventilator and there have been a few improvements in the past four or five days but doctors think she should be more fully awake by now."
Mr Hill said he believed the time between his first call and the paramedic arriving was probably about 20 minutes.
He said: "I feel very angry that vital minutes were lost.
"When I complained to Emas they told me the call should have been treated as an emergency the first time I rang and the recording of the call shows I twice said I thought my mother was having a heart attack," he said.
Phil Milligan, Emas chief executive, said: "I am sorry for the distress the patient and her family experienced when the initial 999 call was incorrectly categorised.
"When NHS Direct referred the call to us we sent a highly-skilled paramedic straight away and he arrived on scene within seven minutes."
He said the paramedic used the defibrillator and when the heart would no longer respond to the treatment "drugs were used to give her the best chance of survival".