Updated with comment from NHS: New 111 helpline fails to support family in need

Kim Green, from Aylesbury
Kim Green, from Aylesbury

A wife who lost her husband to cancer feels the controversial new NHS helpline 111 failed to help in their hour of need.

Kim Green called the line to seek help for her husband Jonothan, but after half an hour without any resolution she ended up running into the street to seek assistance from a district nurse visiting her neighbour.

Mr Green, 53, was diagnosed with prostate cancer just over five years ago and had been put on new medication for pain relief and muscle relaxant the day before the phone incident.

Mrs Green, 36, who lives in Bierton Road, Aylesbury, said: “At about 7am he was having spasms, they were not violent but they were causing him discomfort. The nurses had warned us it can take time to get the dosage right.”

The necessary medication was in the house, but had to be administered by a nurse. They visited every day and were due at 10am, but Mrs Green felt he needed the relaxant before then. She had used the new 111 service successfully before.

But this time it failed to help her. “I couldn’t get any sense,” she said. “The woman tried ringing the out of hours nursing team but couldn’t get hold of them. It got to the stage where it was ridiculous, I was on the phone for half an hour. I was in the same room with my husband, but not next to him, as I should have been.”

Mr Green, who ran Arrowtax Airport Services, died later that day. Mrs Green says her GP, district nurses and Macmillan nurses have been brilliant and her gripe is purely with the 111 service, which has been criticised nationally.

“It’s all very well offering the service, but there needs to be a service. They need more people,” said Mrs Green who added that her husband was not in agony and did not need an ambulance which is why she did not call 999.

“We didn’t know he was dying that morning, he didn’t deteriorate until later in the day. I was with him when he died at 2pm, his death was painfree and quick.”

A spokesman for the NHS 111 service in Buckinghamshire said: “This is a very sad case and our sympathy goes out to the family.

“We take the responsibility for the safety and well-being of our patients extremely seriously.

“When a concern such as this is raised about the NHS 111 service we undertake an incident review involving experienced clinical staff.

“This allows us to identify clear actions so that lessons can be learnt and acted on quickly and thoroughly.

“We would urge the family to contact us directly so that we can discuss this case further with them.”