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Mum's trauma after suffering miscarriage in shopping centre… and then suffering five-hour wait for ambulance

Mum’s trauma after suffering miscarriage in shopping centre… and then suffering five-hour wait for ambulance

A MOTHER who miscarried in a city centre was left traumatised after being told she would have to wait five hours for an ambulance.

Alice Johnson was in Old Market Square, Nottingham with her two-year-old daughter Lylah when she began experiencing pain and bleeding.

Alice Johnson was in the city centre with her young daughter when she began to have a miscarriage

The 32-year-old from Clifton, who was 10 weeks pregnant at the time, knew she was having a miscarriage straight away and ran to a pharmacy nearby.

She dialled 999 and was put through to an East Midlands Ambulance Service call handler.

Alice said: “I couldn’t think straight, it was a busy day. I was covered in blood and everyone was staring at me. Some people were helping but I was panicking and I didn’t want my two-year-old to get upset.

“A nurse called me back shortly after and told me that I needed to make my own way to hospital as it could be a five-hour wait (for an ambulance).

“I ended up having to get a tram to Queen’s Medical Centre. I was standing in puddles of my own blood and I felt panicked and worried. When I arrived I couldn’t move so I just stood on the tram bridge where a group of staff came to meet me on the bridge.”

The traumatised mother ended up making her own way to Queen’s Medical Centre

She added: “If they’d sent a paramedic car I could have maintained some dignity and caused less anxiety and trauma for the future.

“I struggle to step out of the door now because I don’t feel like I could ever rely on the emergency services again; it has made me so anxious. I know that what I went through is common but I still have to think about this experience if I ever get pregnant again.”

An East Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said at the time of Alice’s call, they were already helping 71 patients and had 24 more waiting for an ambulance.

The service acknowledged how distressing the experience was – but emphasised that their priority was helping those whose life was immediately at risk.

Wendy Hazard, paramedic and ambulance operations manager for East Midlands Ambulance Service said: “We discussed options with Alice – either wait on scene for an ambulance but without a clear indication as to when it would arrive, or to make her own way to hospital.

“Alice chose to make her own way and described to our control nurse how she would do that. Given all the circumstances, it was mutually agreed that this was deemed to be the best option.”

Alice was in Old Market Square in Nottingham city centre when she began heavily bleeding

Ruth Bender Atik, national director of the Miscarriage Association said that the impact of this could be both emotional and physical.

She said: “For most women, whatever stage in pregnancy they are, it means the loss of a baby and the hopes, dreams and plans they had for the future.

“The physical experience of acute pain and heavy vaginal bleeding can also be very difficult to cope with even in a private setting, but if it happens in public, it can be intensely embarrassing.

“She might have hoped that swift care would have meant saving her baby. But even if she knew that one cannot stop the process of miscarriage once it starts, she would have wanted expert help, privacy and practical care.

“An ambulance would have provided all of that, but sadly pressure on emergency services means that that is often not available.

“Every case is individual, but if 999 told her to get to hospital herself and assuming she’s not physically collapsed, we’d probably suggest: trying to call a friend to take her to hospital; getting a taxi if possible; looking for someone – a woman or police officer – who could assist her or going into a nearby shop with female staff.

“Asking for help is embarrassing but being in a more private space, maybe getting a coat or similar wrapped round her, could have made her feel a little better.

“She might also find someone who would lend her money for a taxi or even go with her.

“She ne kindness and compassion – something that the general public are actually really good at, especially in circumstances like these.”

An NUH NHS Trust spokeswoman said that the hospital offers specialist support for people who have gone through a miscarriage.

She said: “We provide a miscarriage support group on the first Thursday of every month which is run by our early pregnancy nurse specialist at the chaplaincy seminar room.

“We also have a specialised bereavement midwife who offers support to women and families after miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death.”

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