Councillor wants answers over mother’s treatment

Cllr Gillian Owen and her mother, who experienced delays in receiving emergency medical attention from NHS 24
Cllr Gillian Owen and her mother, who experienced delays in receiving emergency medical attention from NHS 24

An Ellon Councillor is seeking compensation from NHS Grampian and NHS 24, after her elderly mother was left waiting for several hours before receiving urgent medical attention.

Ellon & District Conservative Councillor Gillian Owen made the call after her mother, Marian Clark, suffered a series of fits while in one of the town’s care homes. Now, after raising her mother’s case with local MSPs, she is looking to draw the attention of Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon to her mother’s experiences.

Mrs Clark, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s, suffered a fit in Ellon’s Bonnyton House care home last November. Yet despite care home staff calling NHS 24, it still took over three hours before medical help arrived to transport her mother to hospital in Aberdeen.

“Mum had been living at home until August of 2009, when it all started getting too much to look after her”, said Cllr Owen. “When we got the call from the home to say she had taken ill, we came straight up.

“It was very distressing seeing Mum throwing her arms and legs around. The staff had to surround her with pillows in order to stop her from injuring herself.

“The staff had already called NHS 24 but after an hour, when no help had arrived, I urged them to call again”, she continued. “When an ambulance did finally arrive at around 8.30pm, they didn’t even have paracetamol to help control her condition.”

Cllr Owen contacted Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes, who took up her case with both NHS24 and NHS Grampian. Cllr Owen has now received written apologies from the Chief Executive of NHS 24, John Turner, and from the Chief Executive of NHS Grampian, Richard Carey, as well as an admission from NHS 24 that their call handler failed to deal with the call adequately, and should have referred the case to a senior nurse more quickly.

However, with her mother who was previously mobile now having been left bed ridden, Cllr Owen she is unconvinced that the necessary lessons have been learned from the episode, and is now seeking to raise her concerns with First Minister Alex Salmond and Cabinet Secretary for Health Nicola Sturgeon.

“When Mum was finally taken into hospital, they discovered that she had pneumonia, which was probably because she’d been on the floor for several hours during her fit”, she said. “During Mum’s 9 weeks in hospital, she also contracted MRSA. Although we’ve now received apologies, I’m not content to leave it there.

“The whole experience has been very stressful for the whole family”, she said. “The staff at Bonnyton House have been fantastic throughout and still sometimes go over to see Mum at Auchtercrag.

“Despite the apologies, there’s been no offer of compensation, and there’s nothing which reassures me that this couldn’t happen again in the future to someone else.”