THE out-of-hours GP service accessed through 111 has been criticised by a great-grandmother who was forced to wait more than seven hours to see a doctor.
Betty Bailey, 81, has the lung disease COPD meaning she finds it difficult to breathe.
Last week the condition worsened when she caught a chest infection.
On Saturday night her coughing got so bad and she was struggling so much her husband, Maurice, called an ambulance to their home in Denvilles, Havant.
When the paramedic arrived Mrs Bailey was given the option of going to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, or having a doctor visit her at home – which she opted for.
She said: ‘The ambulance man called the 111 service at 9pm and told me it could be anything from one hour to six hours but that they would arrive. He told me to go to bed and they would call.
‘But I couldn’t go to bed because I was coughing and I didn’t want to miss them.
‘So 3am came and went, 4am came and went and I realised we had been waiting seven hours without even a telephone call.
‘We were completely exhausted because we’d stayed up through the night.
‘My husband rang them and told them to cancel it as we simply could not stay awake any longer.
‘Then I got a telephone call from a female doctor asking why I had cancelled it. She could hear me coughing.
‘I explained that I thought it was disgusting that we’d been made to wait so long.
‘She said they were very busy and would we consider waiting another two hours.
‘I couldn’t believe it. We chose not to.’
Mrs Bailey said that she will never use the 111 service again and, in future, will opt to be taken in to hospital.
Her chest infection has now cleared.
The 111 service was brought in to make it easier for patients to access medical services fast when the incident is not a 999 emergency. Locally South Central Ambulance Service handles the calls but the GP out of hours services is run by Care UK.
Justin Cankalis, head of services of the Hampshire Doctors on Call Service said: ‘We are very sorry to hear about Mrs Bailey’s case, and take such complaints very seriously.
‘Therefore we would encourage Mrs Bailey to get in touch with us directly in order for us to investigate the situation appropriately.’