North West Wales

Gillian Given's death prompts 999 call centre review

Ambulances
Image caption The ambulance service said it wished to extend 'deepest sympathies' to Mrs Given's family

An internal review of a call centre has been launched following the death of a woman whose husband dialled 999 for an ambulance.

At the inquest of Gillian Given, 58, from Abergele, Conwy county, the coroner called on the ambulance service to ensure medical staff could clearly hear what was being said by callers.

Mrs Given died two hours after being told by a call centre nurse to take painkillers and wait for a GP visit.

Managers confirmed a review had begun.

The inquest was told the call centre could be noisy at times which could lead to NHS Direct medical staff who handle calls not hearing responses correctly.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which is responsible for NHS Direct Wales, said it was conducting a review.

Soundproofing

It said: "Whilst we make every effort to ensure the noise is kept to a minimum in our clinical contact centres, which includes providing large, divided workspaces and individual headsets that block background noise, we will review our arrangements in light of the inquest to ensure everything is done that can be within the environment of a busy clinical contact centre."

The ambulance service conducted its own inquiry following a complaint by Mrs Given's husband, James, on the night of his wife's death in July last year.

She had been taken ill earlier that day with abdominal pains.

A post-mortem examination revealed Mrs Given had severe heart disease.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, North Wales Central coroner John Gittins said neglect had played a part in the death of the retired nurse.

He said he intended to make a Rule 43 recommendation that the ambulance service examined the working environment at its call centre to improve soundproofing.

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