Saved by the NHS: A Scilly Isles medical emergency

Some three years ago  I railed about the failure  of the NHS services on the Isles of  Scilly to diagnose  a triple fracture  of my shoulder. I complained to the then primary healthcare trust and about the misdiagnosis by the  GP run hospital  on  St Mary’s.  Since then it looked to me that the  service had improved.Little did I know I was about to test it again.

On a gloriously fine Friday my wife Margaret were sitting out on the terrace of the Ruined Cottage cafe on Tresco while two of  our grandchildren were playing on the beach. Suddenly my wife complained of feeling dizzy and moved into the shade. Within seconds  her speech had become slurred, her vision impaired and she could hardly communicate.

What I didn’t realise is that she had had a stroke totally out of the blue. What happened next virtually  saved the day The waiter realising something was wrong got her a glass of water and a sugary drink.  The cafe called the first responders, volunteers trained by the NHS who arrived in five minutes. They took her pulse and called a paramedic  who got to Tresco in 15 minutes from another island. He called in an air  ambulance which got to Tresco within 30 minutes enough for them to take her by road ambulance to the heliport on the other side of the island. By 5.0 pm she was at  the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro – under two hours from her collapse. She was immediately given a brain scan and is now starting to recover in stroke ward.

But what was well beyond the call of duty was the way the responders and the cafe proprietor also looked after me and by now stunned grandchildren. They were taken away from the scene by the staff and given drinks.   They organised my tickets so that I could get off the island the next morning by boat, despite nearly all places being taken because it was end of half term. They checked the times of trains to Truro from Penzance and even the number of a taxi firm in Truro and a good B & B so we could stay there. They even gave me a BT phone so I could ring my daughter  tell her what happened   – as there is no mobile signal at my cottage.

I couldn’t thank them enough for all their help – they checked up on us the next morning to see we were all right. Now I have the difficult part of waiting to see how Margaret recovers. But it is a timely reminder of how valuable the NHS is to Britain, something we take for granted and how important it is that in this case that all this is provided free of charge. Imagine the bills for just getting my wife to hospital.