A DESPERATELY ill dad was sent home from two hospitals and refused an ambulance despite suffering from a life-threatening brain tumour.
Lee Conteh’s agonising condition was only diagnosed after he collapsed on his living room floor.
Appalled Lee, 45, said today: “There should have been a thorough investigation into what went wrong. It’s disgusting.”
Battling horrific headaches and loss of vision, Lee drove to Sunderland Eye Infirmary for medical help on October 13. After tests and a thorough check, he was told he had a migraine and sent home.
But the pain escalated and a week later he visited his GP who referred him to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Medics carried out a series of tests on the dad-of-three, telling him he had a simple migraine.
They gave him a prescription for heavy pain killer Tramadol and told him they would book him in for a brain scan in four weeks.
Lee said: “It was the most unbelievable pain I’ve ever felt in my whole life. It was horrific and the painkillers weren’t even touching the sides.”
The pain worsened and the next day Lee found himself on the brink of collapse.
With partner Bernadette Woods at work, Lee dialled 999 and asked for an ambulance to take him to hospital.
But, after answering a series of questions from the operator, he was told he did not meet the criteria needed for an ambulance to be sent.
Battling through the pain, Lee lasted another 48-hours before finally collapsing in his living room.
A relative phoned NHS Direct and demanded an ambulance be sent to take him to hospital.
Lee, of Easington Lane, was rushed to University Hospital of North Durham where they carried out a brain scan, which revealed he had a malignant brain tumour. He was transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary where more tests were carried out.
The next day, emergency surgery was carried out to remove two-thirds of the 3cm tumour.
He said: “I’m angry and frustrated because I felt like nobody was listening to me when I knew something serious was wrong.
“There should have been a thorough investigation. It’s disgusting.”
Lee, who has children aged 17, 20 and 21, must now undergo gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions to treat the remainder of the tumour and prevent it from spreading.
He said: “It came as a massive shock that I had a brain tumour to me and the whole family, especially when you’re being told constantly that it’s just a migraine.
“It’s frightening but at least I’ve been told there’s treatment there for me.”
The removal of the tumour has left Lee with no peripheral vision in his left eye.
The North East Ambulance Service confirmed it received the call but said it was unable to send an ambulance as Mr Conteh’s symptoms did not make him a priority.
A spokesman for Sunderland Eye Infirmary said they were investigating the incident but refused to comment further.
A spokesman for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust added: “At the time of presenting, all tests on Mr Conteh came back showing no immediate cause for concern.
“However, he was discharged with a treatment plan and was booked for a CT scan under the two week rule with a follow up appointment for four weeks.
“We are sorry Mr Conteh feels let down by his care on this occasion and we are very willing to speak to him if he would like to contact us.”