A WOMAN from Pontypool had a frightening brush with death after being told by surgeons that if she had arrived at hospital an hour later, she may not have survived.

Tracey Baker was rushed to Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, by her neighbour after she had called 999 three times between 2.20pm and 4pm, but no ambulance had arrived.

Mrs Baker said that she had previously had a bowel operation in November, and on Tuesday, February 19, she felt “really bad pains” in her stomach.

“I went to the GP in the morning and she said to call an ambulance if it got any worse,” she said.

“At about 2.20pm, I phoned 999 as I was crippled in pain. They said to ring again if it got any worse.

“I was practically dragging myself to the bathroom and was throwing up green bile.

“I was going in and out of consciousness, so I phoned again.

“My hearing started going and my body was shutting down.

“My son was really worried. He phoned 999 again, asking for an ETA on the ambulance.

“He was told that my condition was not life threatening.”

Mrs Baker said that her neighbour got home from work at about 4pm and rushed her to Nevill Hall Hospital.

There she was rushed in for a bowel operation – where she was told that it had twisted, cutting off the blood supply and circulation.

“The surgeon told me that it could have been fatal if I had arrived an hour later,” she added.

Mrs Baker said that she received a voicemail at 5pm – when she was in surgery – from the ambulance service asking if she still required an ambulance.

Louise Platt, interim director of operations for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We are very sorry to hear of the experience of Mrs Baker and her family and we wish her a speedy recovery.

“It’s important that the public understands how calls are prioritised and we recognise this is not always easy for people to understand.

“Calls are categorised on the basis of the seriousness of a patient’s condition, which is determined using a prioritisation algorithm which is used by ambulance services across the world and is based on what the caller tells the call handler about the patient.

“Only those calls which are immediately life-threatening, like those where the patient is in cardiac arrest or choking, are subject to a response target of eight minutes.

“Other calls are dealt with on the basis of the clinical condition of the patient, rather than in time order, although we aim to be with all patients within a reasonable timeframe. This is why we are unable to give ambulance arrival times, as ambulances can be diverted to more clinically serious calls.

“We understand that any wait is distressing and we would always advise people to phone us again if they believe the condition of the patient is deteriorating.

“If a patient is fit to travel in a car, then we would always advise that a patient should make their own way to hospital with the assistance of a friend, family member or taxi.”