"Life Savers !"

About: NHS 24

(as the patient),

I called NHS 24 looking for some advice, i had a burning sensation in my chest the previous evening, and the same sensation had returned the next evening, only this time i had become hot and had a dull pain in my arms.  Being in my 30's i thought i had indigestion and felt a bit silly phoning but thought i best to be safe. 

I went through a number of questions with the call handler, asked my age a few times and then i was told to make my way within the next 4 hours the A&E at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.  I wasn't told what my symptoms may possible be, so when i got off the phone i carried on with my night, i did a washing, changed my bed, went and had a shower then about an hour and a half later, i made my way to the hospital, a 40 minute journey. 

They did a number of tests at the hospital and it turned out id had a Heart Attack.  Later when i was on the ward they found out i also had diabetes and was told i was very close to being in intensive care and seriously ill.

Looking back, i probably should have been in an ambulance as i had no idea i was in a life threatening situation when i called, i feel that because of my age (under 40) and being a young and healthy woman, i was probably not thought off as being at risk from a heart attack, however i did present the signs of a heart attack, chest pain, breathlessness, feeling hot, pain in my arms and i think if those symptoms are given on a call, regardless of a woman's age, they need to be elevated to a higher level, i got off my phone call with NHS 24 thinking it wasn't serious, no diagnosis or any suggestion of what my symptoms were given so  i carried on my night and took about 2 hours to get to hospital so it would be good if this is feedback, young woman are at risk and do suffer from heart disease and i think that needs to be acknowledged a bit more in our health service so we get the properly assessed and get treated quickly.

That said, thats not a criticism of the service at all, and i hope my feedback is taken constructively, i'm  a big believer in there always being room for improvement,  i think it needs to be appreciated its difficult enough for a Doctor to diagnose when your in front of them let alone over a phone call and despite having the symptoms i did, they came and went and i didn't associate with feeling OK and ringing an ambulance, they just dont go together, its a tricky one !

When i got to hospital, all the information i had given to the call handler at NHS 24 had been sent through to the hospital and was sitting there waiting for me arriving,  this was great as it meant i didn't have to repeat it all again, and despite the A&E department being exceptionally busy, i only waited about 15 minutes before i was seen. The referral system really works and i got taken quickly. 

I am very thankful and grateful for the NHS 24 service, i've never used it before and if it wasn't for their referral to hospital my plan would have been to go to bed and pop in to see my GP the next day and it could have been a very different story, NHS 24 made me go to hospital and got me in the process of being assessed and eventually in front of specialists who treated me very quickly for my Heart Attack and ensured the diabetes that i knew nothing about was very quickly treated, brought under control and managed, avoiding me suffering a number of complications. 

Pleased to say i made a speedy and full recovery and that's down to our fantastic NHS 24 service and our dedicated and skilled NHS Staff. A big thank you to you all !

It was a worrying and unexpected event to happen and knowing we have a service like NHS 24 there when we need some help and reassurance really is a comfort to know. 

Thank you so much for your help and support,

Keep up the good work !


Response from Shona Lawrence, Patient Experience Manager, NHS 24

picture of Shona Lawrence

Dear Lucky Girl

Thank you very much for sharing your experience on Care Opinion. I can only image how shocked you will have been at suffering from a heart attack and I am so pleased you are doing well. I appreciate that this will have been a worrying time for you and for your family. I understand your concern at being advised by NHS 24 to attend at A&E within a four hour timeframe when your symptoms were so serious. It is kind of you to compliment the services involved in your care.

We a keen to undertake a review of your call to NHS 24 establish if there is anything we could have done differently or better. Such a review would enable us to ensure that our systems and processes appropriately support us to manage such calls. Whilst we have robust processes in place to identify cardiac symptoms, a review of your call would be especially helpful given the detail you have provided in your story.

If you would be kind enough to contact our Patient Experience Team at Patient.Experience@nhs24.scot.nhs.uk then we would be pleased to hear from you.

Thanks again for getting in touch and I look forward to hearing from you.

Take care


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Update posted by Lucky Girl (the patient)

Thanks for your response Shona, I will drop you an email with the time and date of my call