"My mum's care in Northern Ireland"

About: Northern Ireland Ambulance Service The Ulster Hospital / Accident & Emergency

(as a relative),

I received a call from my mum who was unusually disorientated and slightly slurring her words. She could not recall what had happened to her but said she had a lump on her head. Vague recollection of having been outside at one point. This was 1530 on Friday afternoon.

She lives in Northern Ireland, whilst I am in England, so difficult to help. I called her GP surgery, but there was no response - 4 attempts and each time it rang out. Being a nurse I knew she needed checking but at this stage thought an urgent GP visit would suffice.

Disappointing at no answer of the phone and no message to redirect patients. No OOH cover until 1800 apparently.

Anyway my mum then stopped answering her phone, which of course raised alarm bells, and so I called 999. The lady in England was very helpful but I was then informed they only cover England - that said she was communicating with a colleague to get through to the Northern Ireland service. This however added in a delay that seems ridiculous when it is the whole of the UK.

That said the ambulance was duly dispatched. I got hold of my mum and advised her to wait etc etc. I knew it would be a priority call due to the information I had given to them, and sure enough when I called back in 10 minutes the paramedics had arrived. They spoke with me on the phone and answered all my questions. They seemed to appreciate the distance issue!

My mum was determined that she did not want to go in via ambulance but agreed she would get a friend to take her. The paramedics kindly waited with her until her friend arrived - a real measure in my opinion of care and compassion.

She was then taken to the Ulster Hospital. She was quickly triaged, and then had a number of tests - all of which were thankfully okay. She was seen, assessed and treated within 4 hours, and came out with the correct advice, and a check up planned for Monday.

At one point I called the reception to see what was happening. I explained that I was in England. The kind lady explained that the waiting room was full but that if I could find out where my mum was then I could call back and be put through to the Dr / Nurse. This was greatly appreciated.

I think, as people who work in the NHS we can often be overcritical but not on this occasion. I felt safe knowing my mum was being well looked after. The only downside was the GP surgery not responding and the slight delay whilst England 999 connected to Northern Ireland 999.

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