When Anna Wallace discovered in the early hours of the morning that her husband Graham was in pain and suspected that he was seriously ill she hesitated for a moment.
She knew that the NHS was under pressure because of Covid and thought maybe a call to 111 would be better than 999 first off.
But Graham knew something was wrong and she dialled 999 expecting that there would be an ambulance available to speed him to York Hospital for the care he needed.
“I said he had got chest pain and we were worried he was about to get worse,” said Anna, who lives in Norton.
“The woman on the phone was upfront and honest about the situation and said they were on critical alert – meaning they could only respond immediately to critical cases.
“‘Do you have any way of getting your husband to the hospital – because the ambulance is 20 miles away?’ she told us.
“I was staggered that we couldn’t get an ambulance straight away. You never think that there could be such a delay like that in this sort of case.
“But my thoughts then were that I just need to get him there now! And if they can’t get him there, we need to.
“Luckily, my son, who is a trainee teacher in Manchester had come home for a few days before Christmas.”
Son Charlie drove Graham and Anna to York Hospital. As they were walking to A&E – a walk made longer because the entrance has been moved away from the car park during refurbishment work – Graham started to experience a heart attack.
Anna says the staff at the hospital were wonderful and saved his life.
NHS under pressure
She thinks they made the right choice not to wait for paramedics and drive him themselves.
On hearing that an ambulance wasn’t available, Anna thought: “Why the hell is there no ambulance in a market town the size of Malton and Norton? I don’t understand!”
“But there was no point getting cross. Because, you know, we’re all very well aware of the situation with Covid and the pressure it puts on staffing levels.
“I am very well aware that our NHS is under massive pressure.
“I’m just so grateful that we were close enough to the hospital when the heart attack happened.”
She said there was too great a distance from the hospital car park to A&E.
“There doesn’t appear to be a handy drop-off point that is as close to the entrance as normal, so with Graham walking very slowly it took about eight minutes to get there once we had arrived in the car park area.
“At that point he started to go into cardiac arrest and it was all very frightening
“My only plea to York Hospital is please think about how you’re going to get people in more quickly if they’re coming in off the street.
“Once in the A&E they were fabulous. They then ‘blue lighted’ him to Castle Hill in Hull where he had a stent put in. He’s home now and he’s on a very slow road to recovery.
“I want to say thank you to the NHS teams and I totally understand the pressure they are ALL under at the moment.”