"Poor advice received from the NHS 111 service"
Posted by Rocking Horse (as ),
One Saturday morning a few weeks ago my husband (aged 69) suddenly said he felt unwell and then his speech got all jumbled up: he could say some words properly, but then the syllables would become jumbled, or completely the wrong word came out, or he stammered and couldn't get the word out. I was concerned that he might be having a stroke so I called 111 for advice. The person I spoke to asked about other stroke symptoms (face muscles, arm raining etc) and if his speech was 'slurred'. I said not slurred but jumbled up, which seemed hard for her to understand. They then asked me many questions about his mental state - was he depressed, suicidal, dangerous, etc, all of which seemed to me to be irrelevant to his physical symptoms. The person then advised my husband "to see a GP in the next 24 hours". My GP doesn't work on Saturdays, so I asked where else he could go and she suggested Charing Cross Urgent Care Unit, which is our nearest A&E. I was very concerned at the advice about 'within 24 hrs' and so we went immediately to A&E.
When we arrived with his symptoms, the emergency Stroke Team rushed into action with a CT scan of his brain (with subsequent other tests) and they were relieved that we'd got to the hospital within 4 hours. Their diagnosis was that he had had a TIA. His speech recovered in a few hours, but he was admitted to the Stroke Unit and kept under observation for 3 days. The service at A&E and in the Stroke Unit was fantastic and exemplary. My purpose in writing is to draw attention to the fact that the advice we received from 111 was wrong and far too casual, and could have resulted in him being severely impaired as a result of a stroke. I also felt that if I, with no medical training, could suspect a stroke, then how could a trained person, with presumably some sort of questionnaire in front of them, not suspect one and advise us to go immediately to A&E, and so I think a change needs to be made in their training. Having said that, we have previously had excellent advice from the 111 service in the past. I would be grateful if you could please pass this on to the appropriate person.