AN ill woman was forced to stand in the car park at One Life Hartlepool for more than half an hour explaining her symptoms down the phone to an out-of-hours emergency care team – even though a doctor was sat just yards away.
Former councillor Michelle Plant, 52, was then ferried 12 miles to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, by ambulance and diagnosed with a water and blood infection, only to then be told she had to make her own way home at 2.30am.
Michelle then had to order her own taxi to take her back home to pick up her purse before then taking her back to One Life, in Park Road to collect her car, by which time it was 3.30am.
Today disgusted Michelle told the Mail: “The only word I could use to describe it was a shambles, from start to finish.
“Nobody seemed to know what anybody else was doing.”
Save our Hospital campaigner Keith Fisher slammed the healthcare system in the town as “ridiculous” and called for accident and emergency services to go back to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Michelle told the Mail how she drove to One Life Hartlepool at around 10.30pm complaining of a high temperature and dizziness.
But after filling in a form when she got to the centre she was then told that, despite the fact there was a doctor in the building, she didn’t have an appointment out-of-hours so had to ring the 111 emergency number.
After more than half an hour on her mobile phone stood directly outside One Life, she was then told an ambulance would come and pick her up and take her to the University Hospital of North Tees.
After she was diagnosed by a doctor at the hospital and prescribed antibiotics, Michelle was then stunned to be told the next bus wasn’t running for five hours and no taxis were available, so she would have to make her own way home.
Michelle was forced to order her own taxi, altogether costing £13.
NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinic Commissioning Group said the GP out-of-hours service at One Life Hartlepool is accessible to patients by appointment only.
And the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said it is “normal procedure” for patients discharged from A&E to arrange their own transport home.
But Mr Fisher, also an independent councillor in the Hart ward, said: “The most shocking aspect about this is the fact Ms Plant would have had to drive past our hospital to go to a new building in a part of the town which is difficult to access that is doing what could and should have stayed in our hospital.
“We were told all about this state-of-the-art new building and yes, it is brand new, but the system in place doesn’t work.
“The sad thing is I know many more examples like this one of people who have had such shocking experiences with the new system.
“It is ridiculous and it doesn’t work.”
Michelle, who works as a support care worker and lives in Woodstock Way, in the town, added: “Fortunately I had my mobile phone with me at One Life, but I couldn’t get a signal so I had to go outside and make the call.
“Considering I didn’t feel well at all and the fact they had members of staff on reception and a doctor on the premises, I didn’t think that was for me to do.
“What would they have done if I didn’t have my mobile phone with me, would I have had to go home to call 111?”
The mum of Robert, 20, added: “After I was finally seen by a doctor at the hospital it was 2.30am and I was told I had to make my own way home.
“I asked the ladies behind the desk whether there was a taxi number they could ring, but they told me there was no taxis available so I then had to ring a taxi myself.
“I couldn’t believe there were four or five members of staff behind the desk and they were putting me in this position.
“Would it have been the same if it was an older man or lady? Would they have had to make their own way home in the middle of the night?”