“Tory NHS crisis almost killed me” – anaphylactic reaction, ambulance never came

Christine Lightbody

Isle of Wight woman Christine Lightbody was on a visit to London for the New Year’s weekend when the NHS winter crisis – big news with Theresa May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt both forced to apologise this week for the cancellation of all ‘non-urgent’ procedures for the whole of January – had a very direct and almost fatal impact on her.

Here’s how she relates the events:

On Sunday night (New year’s eve) I suddenly found myself unable to breathe at a restaurant in Hither green, London.

The whole place went into panic and my son called for an ambulance. They asked him various questions and when he said that I was still conscious they said that my condition wasn’t life threatening so I could not be a priority.

As luck would have it there was a nurse dining there and she was able to pull me through and get me breathing again. It turned out that I had gone into anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction to a spicy dip when my throat was already swollen and inflamed because of a bug.

40 minutes later no ambulance had arrived and we called to cancel it as I was ok by then. But what if the nurse hadn’t been there to help, or the reaction had been so severe that she couldn’t? To be sure I would have died in the restaurant that evening because the NHS is in crisis under this government.

To add insult to injury, I got back to the Isle of Wight on Monday and I tried to make an appointment as soon as GP surgeries were open again on the Tuesday – but none were available! Tried again 8am and 12noon Wednesday … still non available.

After persisting and saying that I was desperate for antibiotics for my throat and chest infection I was told to call 111. I went through the strangest assessment and was then told should go to A&E because I might be at risk of a deep vein thrombosis after travelling and then being inactive in bed for 2 days!!!!

I responded quite angrily because a) I felt too ill to go and sit in A&E for any length of time just for some tablets and b) I didn’t want to bother A&E at a time when they are over-burdened and in crisis and the solution to my health problem was a simple prescription.

The person then said she’d have to put me in touch with a clinician at 111 so who/what the heck was she?

The clinician went through the same procedure and accepted my reasons for not wanting (or needing) to go to A&E. She said she would call my surgery. Shortly afterwards, my doctor called and based on what I told her she asked me to go down to the surgery at 5.40 pm (even though there were previously no appointments according to the receptionist).

Ten minutes later I emerged with a prescription for antibiotics! Beggars belief!

The convoluted aftermath of the incident may give some insight into why calls to 111 numbers have been at record levels this winter. With A&E waits of over twelve hours not uncommon during the crisis, the fact that non-medical 111 personnel are sending people to A&E is of particular concern.

Far more serious, though, is the fact that a woman with an anaphylactic reaction that could very easily have been fatal was put on low priority for an ambulance and had to wait so long that she eventually cancelled it.


Under this government, ambulance waits outside under-resourced Accident and Emergency units have become endemic, creating massive backlogs of people waiting, it’s inevitable that such situations are being played out daily – with potentially fatal consequences.

Yet Jeremy Hunt still felt free to try deflecting blame via arrogant ‘whataboutery’ on social media, for which he was rightly pilloried.

Hunt’s flippancy cannot be allowed to deflect from the fact that these are life-and-death matters. The number of deaths of patients under the care of ambulance crews rose sharply last year. How many are dying before an ambulance crew even reaches them?

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  1. Wales ambulance Service Uncontrollable bleeding ,heart attack any other call low priority waited 40 minutes on concrete when knocked out by garage door at the age of 81

  2. Another cold snap forecast starting the weekend and at full capacity now.
    I feel for all the NHS staff and patients being put through this deliberately by the nasty party.

  3. is twitter now the prfered medium for revolutionaries – in my day we’d be out on the streets? this is appalling but disabled people have been murdered for years and nobody cares

  4. WTF is Jeremy C*nt still in post after presiding over the demise of our NHS. I don’t believe Mays apology for this state of affairs as she is just as guilty as C*nt.

  5. I see Hunt is out and about claiming it is not a crisis because they have prepared for it and have a plan.
    WTF and the right wing MSM are letting him spread this bullshit

  6. We can beat these lying cretins simply by quoting these incidents to people each time and as they occur.

    I constantly remind people that the media is just the political extension of this corrupt governments arm. The more that make this point the more obvious it becomes.

  7. Perhaps the NHS – a wonderful achievement (which we all pay for) is also there to provide healthy workers for capital for free. Working people really create the wealth and make societies work so perhaps if you are too ill, too old, or have mental health difficulties etc. why should capital have any interest in you? Perhaps to them you are surplus to requirements? Brothers and sisters perhaps we need to realise that we are dealing with Tory Barbarians in the UK and Capitalist Barbarians internationally! The rich and powerful are THE TRUE LITTLE PEOPLE OF THE PLANET! Perhaps May, Trump, Putin, Erdogen et al and associated billionaires/millionaires in the face of human poverty, homelessnes, climate threats etc. look after the Barbarian 1% – and perhaps in terms of human progress these little people may well have never existed. “Business, Humankind is your business!” (Charles Dickens, Christmas Carol)
    Power to working people internationally!

  8. It’s time for working people to realise WE ARE THE STARS! X & International Solidarity!

  9. Hunt and May both been left off the hook by MSM. Hunt only went on the media because he could hide no longer, and his apology was meaningless – it was so obviously staged.
    I was waiting for Jon Snow on C4 news to ask him two further questions 1) what do you and your family do when you need treatment and 2) isn’t all this running down of the NHS really to do with your deliberate policy to privatise it. But Snow let him off the hook. Shame.

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