The NHS 111 call service has come under fire from the grieving daughter of a ‘high risk’ pensioner who died after contracting coronavirus.
Ali Kiraz Ozel, 66, passed away at home in Southend, Essex, in the early hours of April 10, after his wife twice called the non-emergency helpline for advice.
On the second occasion, the call handler was warned Mr Ozel, who had diabetes and high blood pressure, was ‘suddenly very breathless’.
But they say that no ambulance was sent to assist Mr Ozel, who died hours later.
Now Mr Ozel’s daughter, Sevtap Ahmet, 40, has criticised the NHS 111, saying her father should have been ‘red-flagged’ as a high risk case and an ambulance should have been sent to help.
A spokesperson for the service said the complaint would be investigated.
Ali Kiraz Ozel (pictured centre), 66, passed away at home in Southend, Essex, in the early hours of April 10, after his wife twice called the non-emergency helpline to ask about his health.
Mr Ahmet (pictured with his wife) was born in Turkey and had lived in the UK for 40 years, running a pizza and kebab takeaway before he retired
Sevtap Ahmet (pictured) has made a complaint to the NHS 111 service following the death of her father. The NHS says it is investigating the complaint.
Ms Ahmet said: ‘I think he should have been red-flagged. He should have been considered high risk.
‘They should have sent for an ambulance. Most definitely on April 9 when my mum called.
How and when you should contact the NHS if someone you live with shows coronavirus symptoms
According to the NHS, there is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19.
But the NHS advises people can often ease symptoms at home until they or the person they live with recovers.
Those showing symptoms are advised to rest or sleep, to drink plenty of water and to take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature if you are uncomfortable.
On its website, the NHS says it is ‘important to get medical help if your symptoms get worse’.
The website directs people to the NHS 111 online service, where you can get advice by entering details online, if ‘you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home’ or ‘your symptoms get worse and you’re not sure what to do’.
People are urged only to call the 111 helpline if they cannot get help online.
Those with coronavirus symptoms are being told not go to a GP, pharmacy or hospital.
Source: NHS 111 Online
‘He’s 66, he’s overweight, he’s got blood pressure issues, diabetes, there’s somebody in the house who previously had the symptoms.
‘He should have been cause for concern in my view.’
The family say Mr Ozel developed a new cough on April 7 and ‘was coughing continuously overnight’, so his wife called 111 on April 8.
She said they were told his blood pressure medication was exacerbating his cough, so he was prescribed antibiotics instead.
‘He actually coughed less that evening but on April 9 he deteriorated and when my mum called for 111 they said to wait 24 hours and see if the antibiotics would kick in,’ Mrs Ahmet said.
But she said his condition worsened and Mr Ozel died in the early hours of April 10 of a heart attack caused by Covid-19.
She said she filed a complaint to the service on Wednesday.
She added: ‘I don’t know whether he needed a ventilator but he obviously needed some sort of help or treatment.
‘I’m not even saying that had he gone in he would have come out alive, but he wasn’t even given that chance for extra care.
‘I wouldn’t want somebody else to go through this.’
Mr Ahmet was born in Turkey and had lived in the UK for 40 years, running a pizza and kebab takeaway before he retired.
His daughter added: ‘He was quite a bubbly person, friendly, funny, a real family man.
‘He didn’t really care for possessions and things, it was all about family, making sure we were all looked after, that we had everything that we needed, and he just loved his grandchildren.’
A spokesman for NHS 111 in Essex said in a statement to MailOnline: ‘We would encourage anyone who has any concerns about the advice they have received from our service to raise them with us directly so they can be fully and properly investigated, and so that we can then immediately act on them.’
Today another 616 coronavirus victims were announced in the UK, taking the total number of fatalities in the UK to 18,738.
Another 4,583 people have tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, meaning 138,078 have now been officially diagnosed.
The number of positive tests has remained stable this week and appears to be plateauing.
NHS England confirmed a further 514 people have died with COVID-19 and another 102 deaths were announced across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Today’s figure marks a fall of 37 per cent from the worst day in Britain’s statistics, April 10, when 980 people were confirmed to have died – and is lower than the 759 recorded yesterday.