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Royal Free apologises after woman at risk of heart attack is refused treatment for filming in hospital

Royal Free hospital Royal Free hospital

Friday, February 28, 2014
5:41 PM

The Royal Free Hospital has apologised to a young woman after she posted a video to YouTube appearing to show its staff refusing her treatment despite her being at serious risk of having a heart attack.

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Rula Talib, 29, was rushed to the A&E department of the hospital in Pond Street, Hampstead, in the early hours of Tuesday morning by her partner after waking up with an irregular heart beat.

A long-time sufferer of heart condition supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), she was unable to find her medication and sought urgent medical attention.

But a video she recorded using her mobile phone and posted on the video sharing site YouTube appears to show staff at the hospital refusing to allow her to see a doctor - leaving her frantically pleading for help.

Speaking to the Ham&High, Ms Talib said: “When I rushed into the A&E there was nobody at the front desk.

“A few minutes later a member of staff arrived and I told her I urgently needed to see a doctor as my heartbeat was out of sync - which means I could very well have a heart attack at any moment.

“They just didn’t seem to respond and walked off - so I was left just waiting around.

“I couldn’t believe it, so I started filming what was happening.”

The video can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9AkjHY8Fi8

Unhappy that Ms Talib had started filming staff who she believed were not treating her case with the urgency it deserved, she was told she wouldn’t be allowed to see a doctor until she handed over her mobile.

The resident of Mill Hill, who works in the law profession, refused and continued to plead with staff to allow her to get the treatment she needed.

Terrified she was about to have a heart attack or go into cardiac arrest, she ended up ringing the police for help.

While her heart eventually went back into sync without any treatment from medical staff, Ms Talib has made an official complaint to the hospital.

She is now adamant no other patient be put at risk.

A spokesman from the Royal Free said: “For reasons of patient confidentiality and privacy, we always require consent from patients or staff before allowing them to be filmed while on the hospital grounds, which was explained to Ms Talib.

“In addition, we would always supervise filming to ensure there is no breach of privacy or confidentiality.

“We are sorry that our receptionist told Ms Talib she could see a doctor only after deleting the recording from her phone.

“The clinical needs of a patient are our priority and the member of staff has been advised on what would be a more appropriate course of action if similar circumstances were to arise again.

“Ms Talib has contacted our patient advice and liaison service regarding this incident and we are currently ascertaining what took place. As soon as that is done we will respond to Ms Talib.”

According to recent figures, the Royal Free Hospital received 608 complaints out of over 74,000 finished consultant episodes between January and November last year - a ratio of just 0.8 per cent.

To date, only 98 of those complaints have been upheld.

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