A mother-of-two tragically died while ‘waiting on the phone for nearly two hours for a doctor’s appointment,’ her devastated family have claimed.
Heartbroken family members allege that popular baker Helena Maffei, 55, was trying to get in contact with a GP for breathing difficulties when she suddenly collapsed at home in front of her 28-year-old son.
Helena had run the family business Continental Bakery for 35 years with her partner Tony and lived above the shop.
The 55-year-old’s daughter, Gaetana Maffei, said she was feeling unwell at home and was held in a long phone queue to get through to Church Street Surgery when she tragically collapsed and died.
Daughter Gaetana Maffei, 30, said: “Mum had been having health anxieties and so was trying to get an appointment as she was feeling breathless, but was hanging on the phone from 8.30am to 10.15am trying to get through.
“Her phone battery died during the call and she had to ring back and get in line again.
“She got through, just as she collapsed and the receptionist was saying a doctor could call her back at 11.30am.
“My brother Giuseppe rang the ambulance and was giving her CPR and the paramedics did too when they arrived, but it was too late. It’s a real shock for the family. She passed away in my brother’s arms and it is just the saddest thing.
“My mum put all her trust in the doctors but there seems to be no urgency with them. The GP surgery put you on hold for ages and that feels useless. You wait and wait in phone queues to see a GP.”
Church Street GP surgery’s phoneline has a recorded message that due to reception staff self-isolating, there will be delays to answering calls. It adds that the surgery is “currently experiencing high levels of calls” and says that “if your condition is life-threatening or a medical emergency” to redial 999.
“Mum was the soul of Kidderminster and we called her ‘Wonderwoman’ because she never stopped. She was the glue that held the family together,” said Gaetana. “We just don’t know what to do now.”
Glamorous Helena grew up in Worcester, where her mother Anna Kryschanowskry and two sisters still live. Married to Tony for 32 years, she also cared for her father-in-law Gabriel Massi.
“Mum and dad did everything together and were still so in love, holding hands and being romantic,” added Gaetana. “She was loved, everyone loved her and would beep their horns as they went passed the shop when she was sweeping up leaves.
“Mum was so kind-hearted. Within minutes of meeting her, you would feel as though you had known her for years, and by the time you left the shop, she’d know everything about you too. Kidderminster has lost a heart of gold.”
Speaking on behalf of the GP practice, a spokesperson from Wyre Forest Health Partnership said: “As is usual in General Practice we do not comment on individual patient cases, however we will always speak with patients, their families or representatives and investigate with them, where there are concerns or complaints. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.
“The surgery is one of five practices which make up the Wyre Forest Health Partnership. So whilst the surgery did lose team members on Thursday due to a Covid positive result, they were immediately replaced with experienced staff from our other practices.
“We have worked hard throughout the pandemic to offer an accessible service to our patients, and we have seen patients face to face throughout this time.
“We have recruited additional reception staff at the surgery, as well as offering a variety of ways for people to contact us to seek help.
“As General Practice is finding nationally, at the moment it is very, very busy and our phone message does advise that if patients feel they have a life-threatening medical emergency to hang up and dial 999.
“As we go into winter we would strongly urge all those who are eligible for the flu or third Covid immunisation when it falls due, to have them in order to help protect themselves against what will undoubtedly be a very difficult winter.”
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