"Being refused an ambulance in an emergency"

About: Arbroath Infirmary / General Surgery Brechin Infirmary / Accident & Emergency NHS 24 Ninewells Hospital / General Surgery

(as a parent/guardian),

My son was experiencing abdominal pain which started in the morning, it got progressively worse as the day went on. I called NHS 24 in the afternoon which by this time it was severe. I was told someone would call back in an hour. He got worse very quickly, I called back and was told someone would call back within 2 hours.

Every time I called I asked if there was somewhere I could take him myself as I had transport. By this time he was screaming in agony. I called an ambulance and was told this was not an emergency and they would refer me to NHS 24. I called NHS 24 again. I was told to take him to the local infirmary at 6: 30 P. M. I thought he would be seeing a doctor, it was a nurse who then sent us to another town 20 mins away. The Dr. there arranged for him to go to the hospital, I took him there which took another hour.

He was operated on at around 11: P. M. His appendix had burst by then and was badly infected.

This was a very frightening experience for us. My son was very unwell afterwards. I am very upset at the way we were treated. We were told it was not an emergency when it clearly was. My son suffered excruciating pain much longer than he should have and still could suffer complications from this. I felt completely helpless and unsure what to do at the time.

I do not have any faith in NHS 24 whatsoever now.

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Response from Shona Lawrence, Patient Affairs Manager, NHS 24

picture of Shona Lawrence

We are very sorry to read of your experience and thank you for raising this via Patient Opinion. This must have been a very distressing experience for both you and your son. We would be keen to find out more about what happened and would ask you to consider contacting us so we can look at your son's case in more detail. NHS 24 and NHS Tayside are keen to work jointly to learn and improve our service to patients and perhaps a joint meeting between you, NHS 24 and NHS Tayside may be helpful.

Your feedback has already been shared with the NHS 24 Director of Nursing & Care, and the Director of Nursing for NHS Tayside, and they are keen to explore this further to see if we can make any improvements to our service which may benefit other patients.

Please accept our apologies for your experience. We would very much welcome direct contact from you. Please contact Shona Lawrence, NHS 24 Patient Affairs Manager on 0141 337 4582 or email patient.affairs@nhs.scot.nhs.uk or Alison Moss, Complaints & Feedback Lead, NHS Tayside on 0800 027 5507 or email complaints.tayside@nhs.net

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Response from Patient Advice and Support Service National Coordinator, Patient Advice and Support Service


We have read your story and thought you'd like to know that we may be able to help if you want to give feedback or comments, or raise concerns or complaints to the NHS. The Patient Advice and Support Service is an independent service which provides free, accessible and confidential information, advice and support to patients, their carers and families about NHS healthcare. We can:

* provide you with information, advice and support if you want to give feedback or comments, or raise concerns or complaints, about healthcare provided by NHS Scotland

* help you understand your rights and responsibilities as patients

You contact the service via any citizens advice bureau in Scotland. Visit www.patientadvicescotland.org.uk/ or use the phone book to find your local CAB

Best wishes, the Patient Advice and Support Service