No reply from NHS 24 when Cairnie crofter with arm gash tried to get help
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A Cairnie couple who twice waited more than 25 minutes for their call to NHS 24's 111 number to be answered ended up calling in a neighbour to dress a bad gash.
The couple,who asked not to be named, are concerned that the new method by which people must secure an appointment to go to the Minor Injury Unit (MIU) at Jubilee Hospital and others is a backward step.
The man sustained a bad gash to his arm on a barbed wire fence.
He explained: "It wasn't an emergency but a nasty gash from wrist to elbow on the inside of my arm.
"As instructed, I phoned 111 to get an appointment at Huntly. The recorded voice said that I might have to wait up to 15 minutes - 25 minutes later I gave up but did try again with exactly the same lack of response.
"My wife patched up my arm but next day the wound did still look like it could do with professional attention so we had another 25 minute wait with the same result as before - nothing. Eventually we rang a friend and she came over and did a proper job on it but said it would have been better to have gone to Huntly's MIU.
"Presumably the failure is at the national call centre. We were calling in what I would consider normal working hours so if there aren't enough folk on the phones then what is it like at busy times?
"It is concerning that we can't phone Huntly direct for an appointment and we have heard that other people have had the same problem."
Calls to 111 are handled centrally by NHS 24 and delivered to the nearest available handler.
A spokesman told The Huntly Express that the minimum wait time in August was six seconds but when pressed revealed the average time was 20 minutes.
She added: "NHS 24 has been recruiting additional staff and continues to do so."
MSP Alexander Burnett, said: “Patients from across Aberdeenshire West have voiced concerns to me regarding the MIU situation which must be addressed.
“MIUs like Huntly are essential for rural communities and it’s vital the medical cover they give isn’t downgraded.”
Richard Thomson, MP for Gordon, said: “MIUs are specifically in place for injuries of that nature. As the guidelines have changed you have to call 111 before attending, it is frustrating to hear this may be causing issues.”