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Woman with type 1 diabetes urges 999 call-outs to prioritise diabetes emergencies

A woman with type 1 diabetes who fell into a diabetic coma after waiting for an ambulance has called for urgent changes to the way 999 calls are prioritized.
Lynn Hurford, from Gower in South Wales, was “really confused” and breathing “very rapidly”, according to her GP, who rang 999 on her behalf last year after it became clear she was very unwell.
It took the ambulance two hours to reach Ms Hurford, during which time she fell into a coma due to the onset of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a dangerous short-term complication that occurs when blood sugar levels rise too high.
She reached Morriston Hospital two hours later, where she spent four days in intensive care and a further four days on a ward.
Ms Hurford told Wales Online: “Had an ambulance got to me just after the GP’s phone call, even within 30 minutes, I would not have gone into a coma. Time was critical.”
Ms Hurford’s GP had told the emergency call operator that the 46-year-old could be experiencing DKA. When asked whether Ms Hurford’s condition was an immediate threat to her life the GP said “yes”.
However, the call was categorised as amber which is given a lower priority than red call-outs. Red call-outs are reserved for situations where someone has stopped breathing or their pulse has stopped.
At the time, the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) did not have an ambulance available and so Ms Hurford had to wait until one was.
WAS director of operations Richard Lee said: “I am sorry that Ms Hurford is not satisfied with our initial response to her concerns. Our investigation showed that her call was appropriately categorised but that pressures across the health system led to a delay in our response.
“We have apologised to Ms Hurford for the delay and we continue to be in contact with her in order to ensure we successfully resolve her concerns.”
Ms Hurford has since set up a petition to campaign for life-threatening diabetes emergencies to be handled with greater priority.

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