A woman in the United Kingdom who was beginning to suffer a heart attack last week found herself, fortunately, close to a medical center at the time. But, unfortunately, when she asked the receptionist to call for help, the woman was told to find her own phone and do so herself.

The urgent health care company explained that receptionists follow protocol to identify an emergency situation. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

The urgent health care company explained that receptionists follow protocol to identify an emergency situation. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Hannah Barnes entered the Palmer Community Hospital, a walk-in health center, last Monday when she was experiencing her second heart attack this year, according to the Shields Gazette. When she walked in to ask the front desk receptionist to call an ambulance, Barnes’ sister, Tina Barnes, said the 58-year-old was told that the receptionist couldn’t make the call.

“She doesn’t always have her mobile phone with her. If she hadn’t had it, she would have died,” Tina Barnes told the Gazette. “She says she will never forget the face of the woman who said she couldn’t call her an ambulance. I want those responsible to be named and shamed.”

Northern Doctors Urgent Care spoke on behalf of the health center’s policy and said it is up to the receptionist to takea brief visual assessment of the patient’s presenting condition.” Depending on what is observed, the receptionist refers to the company’s “urgency criteria,” which identifies symptoms of patients experiencing “emergency, urgent or non-urgent conditions, and the actions to be taken accordingly.”

“Therefore, when a patient presents to a receptionist requesting an ambulance, the receptionist will briefly identify the physical presenting condition of the patient and seek immediate clinical advice from one of our [general practitioners]; while, if necessary, calling 999,” the urgent care company said in a statement to the Gazette.

It is unclear what symptoms the receptionist recorded that deemed Barnes’ situation one that wouldn’t merit an urgent call to an ambulance, but the woman was able to make the call herself and was transported to another hospital where she remained later in the week.

(H/T: Daily Mail)

Front page image via Shutterstock.