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Scot refused ambulance thought he would die and started texting goodbyes

A hairdresser was told by a hospital doctor to dial 999 if an infection got worse – but was refused an ambulance when he called the emergency line.

Brian Rafferty was so afraid he would die that he started texting goodbyes to his loved ones. The 33-year-old was instructed to get urgent help if the illness spread and his foot turned black and blue.

However, he says he was left fearing for his life when a call handler refused to dispatch medics and referred him to NHS 24. He was then told he’d get a phone appointment within four hours.

He ended up calling a taxi to take him to Edinburgh’s Western General where he was treated for skin infection ­cellulitis, a decision which saved his foot – and his life.

But he was so afraid by the time he got to the hub that he began texting friends and family to say goodbye.

Brian was refused an ambulance, despite the hospital telling him to call one if his cellulitis worsened, and nearly lost his foot as a result.

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Brian, from Restalrig, Edinburgh, said: “I was so ill I thought I was going to die. It was terrifying. I was so traumatised I was sending people goodbye messages.”

Brian had been on holiday in Gran Canaria and developed blisters from wearing new trainers. He bought ­antibacterial cream and plasters but on the flight home he began to feel unwell.

He said: “My foot had swelled up but that can happen when you are travelling. A couple of days after I got home I wasn’t feeling any better so I went to my GP.

“She thought it might be a blood clot so she sent me to the Western General.”

But a doctor there diagnosed cellulitis – a bacterial infection which in the very worst cases can lead to amputation or even death – and gave him intravenous antibiotics.

He was told to return to the hospital every day for a week for IV antibiotics but he was warned that if his foot, which was red, changed in any way he was to dial 999 immediately. The following day Brian woke with a temperature and saw his foot had turned black and blue.

Scot refused ambulance thought he would die and started texting goodbyes
Brian was refused an ambulance, despite the hospital telling him to call one if his cellulitis worsened, and nearly lost his foot as a result.

Brian, who spent a week in hospital, said: “The call handler asked me a few questions and then said I wasn’t a candidate for an ambulance and I was to call NHS 24.

“I waited 25 minutes to get through and then I was told someone would call me back within four hours. I was due to go to the Western General later that morning for my IV antibiotics so my mum and I just got a taxi there and waited until the clinic opened because there isn’t an A&E there.

“When the doctors and nurses arrived they were baffled why I wasn’t seen as an emergency and said I should have been taken to A&E straight away.

“I don’t remember much after that but I was told later I was lucky they didn’t have to amputate my foot. If I had waited for my appointment I would have been dead.”

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “The Scottish Government needs to get a grip on the problems with the ambulance service.”

Last night a Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We can confirm we received a call on September 3 and given the details provided over the phone, it was triaged appropriately.”



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