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to to tell you to call 999, rather than 111, if you think you can get away with it?

(77 Posts)
AlbertaCampion Thu 11-Apr-13 16:03:09

My diabetic DF was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, after being floored by that horrible DV bug that has been going around. My family decided to call an ambulance for him after he became too weak to get out of bed, unable to control his bowel movements and less than lucid.

He was conscious, and not in any great pain, so at 9pm we called 111. We spent close to an hour on the phone to the dispatcher there, running through his symptoms etc., and were told to wait with him. At midnight, phone calls were flying back and forth - but still no ambulance. His condition was getting worse. We called 111 again and were told to call 999 and get him into hospital pronto.

So we called 999 - only to be told that because the initial call had been made to 111, the 999 chaps would have to speak to the 111 chaps and go through the notes and get back to us.

At 2 am there was still no ambulance, and his condition was continuing to get worse, so we got him out to the car (with difficulty), made him as comfortable as we could in the car and my DB drove him to the hospital.

He is still in the hospital, hooked up to fluids etc. while they continue to run tests. His blood sugar is all over the place, so they have whacked up his insulin too.

I know I may get flamed for suggesting that you should call 999 if it isn't a class A urgent priority medical emergency - but the truth is, 111 were bloody useless and I will now think very long and hard before calling them again. AIBU?

Sidge Thu 11-Apr-13 16:07:30

YABU and I hope you're joking.

There is no justification for calling 999 unless it is a medical emergency.

I'm sorry your father is so poorly and agree that 111 is a shambles in many areas but you can't advise people to call 999 for any old problem. Just because you had a bad experience with 111 (and probably should have taken him to A&E yourselves at the outset) doesn't mean it doesn't work in other areas.

Hope he's better soon.

MissyMooandherBeaverofSteel Thu 11-Apr-13 16:11:09

Sorry that you had a bad experience but this thread is very poorly thought out. You should ask for it to be deleted, advising people to call 999 in anything less than an emergency is just stupid.

Branleuse Thu 11-Apr-13 16:12:42

if you had the car and could take him, why would you call an ambulance?

LadyVoldemort Thu 11-Apr-13 16:16:52

Yabu. You should only call 999 in a real emergency.

I do sympathise with you though, it must have been a real worry with it taking so long. Hope your dad gets better soon

ShowMeTheYoni Thu 11-Apr-13 16:18:42

YABU.....I all why you are being though. But you had access to a car, you could have gone yourself...and did.

YoniFoolsAndHorses Thu 11-Apr-13 16:20:00

Why didn't you get him in the car earlier when he was in less pain, you ninny You didn't even need an ambulance later.
Why didn't you call your out of hours GP though for advice?

Mumsyblouse Thu 11-Apr-13 16:20:06

What is a 'real emergency' and how are we supposed to differentiate it from someone going downhill fast, like the OP's father? I know what you are saying, OP, you are saying that if you call 111 and then subsequently do think there's a real emergency, you will be delayed by having called 111 in the first place.

And I would have thought it perfectly obvious why you wouldn't want to take an incontinent semi-delirious person in a car to hospital, in case the emergency developed on the journey! That IS what ambulances are for.

trinity0097 Thu 11-Apr-13 16:21:55

I would have called 999 in the first place as I would consider that an emergency situation. Unable to get up, not lucid and unable to control bowels is an emergency situation in my books!

BriansBrain Thu 11-Apr-13 16:23:30

It must have been a worry but I totally disagree with your thread title.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but you should have taken him in the car at the onset of your concern or called ooh if you were looking for advice.

999 also doesn't gaurantee an ambulance as they have other pathways of help they can use if the call doesn't warrant 999 so effectively all the caller of a non emergency 999 call is doing is blocking that medical dispatcher from being able to deal with a real emergency.

Thus endangering the lives of others.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Thu 11-Apr-13 16:24:22

Jesus. What a mess. I think the message to take from your experience is that if after calling 111 you later need to call 999 don't reveal or divulge details of previous dealings you have had with 111 to 999 so that it can't orejudice or jeopardise handling of your call based on current 'live time' facts. I hope you father is well again soon .

GruffaloAteMySocks Thu 11-Apr-13 16:25:35

What everyone else said, if he's diabetic, wasn't lucid and couldn't control his bowels I would have taken him straight to hospital rather than faffing about phoning 999 or 111.

AubreyAutumn Thu 11-Apr-13 16:28:11

The only time I have called 999 was when I was babysitting my niece, she was only about 11 months at the time.

She's not been too well all day, high temperature. When her eyes started rolling in the back of the head and she started to have a fit right in front of me.

The ambulance they sent was already on the way to someone else, but they deemed my niece's situation more serious so it was diverted.

I felt very bad about this, but it was out of my hands.

My point is 999 is always so busy that they don't need people adding to it and wasting resources when it's not a real emergency.


RubberBullets Thu 11-Apr-13 16:32:06

What is 111, I've never heard of it

AlbertaCampion Thu 11-Apr-13 16:33:03

All fair points. I should have phrased it better. Actually, I should have given this a different headline entirely! My main beef, I think, is that when the situation DID deterioriate into a medical emergency, and we were instructed to call 999, we were stuffed because of the previous 111 call.

Moving my dad isn't easy and we didn't have the car to hand - my DB lives an hour away, and ended up driving down after calling 999 got us nowhere - but if we had known how the night would pan out, then yes, we would certainly have taken him ourselves.

Thinking about it, I'm more fed up with 999 than with 111. If 111 is overloaded and unable to provide a timely response, fine, but if a situation deteriorates like this one did and a non-emergency becomes something more than that, it's a terrible time to get bogged down in red tape and paperwork.

NickyNackyNooNoo Thu 11-Apr-13 16:40:50

YABU - I was burgled rang 111 police were round within 20 mins. 111 operator was fantastic.

NEVER ring 999 unless it is an emergency

whois Thu 11-Apr-13 16:41:39

The ambulance service isn't a taxi service. Why didn't you call it a taxi and get your dad to A&E in the first place?

MammaTJ Thu 11-Apr-13 16:46:47

Calling a taxi for someone unable to control their bowels could be an expensive matter.

I would have dialled 999 initially too, not being lucid is an emergency imo.

AlbertaCampion Thu 11-Apr-13 16:48:34

whois - The state he was in, no taxi would have taken him.

Shutupanddrive Thu 11-Apr-13 16:48:40


BurningBridges Thu 11-Apr-13 16:49:43

Now I'm really confused here, and although I am not glad OP had this experience, I am glad its come up. As far as I thought was true, 111 merely replaces NHS Direct, rather than it being a new improved service. In fact, its less use than NHS Direct as the people who answer the phone have no medical experience.

Years ago, when DDs were small, I used to call NHS Direct for advice and you'd speak directly to a nurse (sometimes they called you back) - I remember calling once and saying please put me through to a nurse who has experience with croup and they did. My dear friend who has been a nursing sister for 30 years worked on there too.

Then she told me that they were trying to get rid of nurses and replace them with "advisers" - people who follow a scripted logarithm on screen e.g., if patient says A go to question B, if patient says C go to question D, that sort of thing. Whereas the nurses could use their experience to think hang on, this doesn't sound right, advisers can only follow the script. If you have a rare complication or something unusual, tough luck. My friend has saved people's lives knowing when to refer; needless to say she doesn't work for 111.

But anyway, my point is, if I rang NHS direct and took advice, it would then still be up to me to decide what to do. But on this occasion the OP dialled 111 and then seems to have lost autonomy, to people who are, after all, just call centre workers. 111 has been rightly criticised in the press so its timely this has come up. Does anyone else have experience or actually work there?

BurningBridges Thu 11-Apr-13 16:54:48

(NickyNacky - 111 is what's replaced NHS Direct, for police I think you mean 101 and as far as I can see we're only discussing ambulance and health stuff on this thread)

CloudsAndTrees Thu 11-Apr-13 17:48:36


You had a valid enough reason to call 999 in the first place. The fact that you chose not to does not mean you should be encouraging others o make bad choices.

Sirzy Thu 11-Apr-13 17:52:46

I am confused - why did you phone 111 if you wanted an ambulance?

whois Thu 11-Apr-13 17:53:59

whois - The state he was in, no taxi would have taken him

Ah I didn't see he couldn't control his bowels. Yeah would have been tricky getting a taxi then!

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