Burry Port pensioner is told to take taxi to A&E
A BURRY Port pensioner was told to take a £40 taxi to A&E after his pleas for help from the ambulance service went unanswered, his angry family has claimed.
Last Wednesday, on the eve of his 70th birthday, John Ridgway was taken seriously ill at his Dyffryn home in the early hours of the morning.
His wife Pauline dialled 999 and spoke to an operator, who was unable to connect her to the ambulance service despite several attempts.
Eventually she was put through to an NHS Direct nurse, who told them they would have to drive themselves to A&E.
However, neither of the couple was able to drive, so they were advised to take a cab to hospital.
To add insult to injury, they were told that there was no doctor available at Prince Philip Hospital and they would need to travel 17 miles to Glangwili instead. John's brother, Mike Ridgway, contacted a taxi firm who estimated the cost from Burry Port to Glangwili would be around £40.
It was an "appalling" situation to be left in, said the 68-year-old.
"John was in agony and was being violently sick," said Mike.
"His wife was extremely concerned when she rang the ambulance service and there was no answer at all.
"It was frightening to be in that situation and know help is not coming.
"John is a 70-year-old man who still works and has contributed all his life, but there is no-one to help him when he needs it.
"How on earth could a pensioner afford a taxi which costs that much?"
The family reported the incident to the Wales Ambulance Service and Hywel Dda Health Board.
A Wales Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: "The trust is looking into the various aspects of this case. In the meantime, we extend our deepest regret for any distress caused.
"Once we've concluded our internal enquiries we will contact the family and discuss the case directly with them."
John was eventually taken to Glangwili by his son, who was called away from work that morning.
He is now out of hospital and recovering at home.
A spokeswoman for Hywel Dda Health Board said: "We are unable to comment on the advice given to this patient by NHS Direct, however we can confirm Prince Philip Hospital A&E is supported by 24-hour medical doctor cover, and was operating as normal accepting emergency patients at this time."