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Grandmother Debra Thomas believes doctors wrongly diagnosed panic attack before she collapsed from heart failure

By Angela Cole

A grandmother was told she was having a panic attack when she was suffering from heart failure.

Debra Thomas, from Loose, was at Kingswood Community Mental Health Centre in Maidstone when she started to turn blue and was struggling to breathe.

The 49-year-old’s son, Dylan, said staff at the Union Street clinic assumed his mum, who had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, was experiencing a panic attack before she collapsed outside.

Debra Thomas, from Loose, suffered from heart failure while at a Maidstone clinic
Debra Thomas, from Loose, suffered from heart failure while at a Maidstone clinic

Mr Thomas’s sister, Rebecca, was with their mum when she fell ill at the centre.

The 29-year-old called her brother for help when she struggled to lift Mrs Thomas out of a chair in the consultation room.

Mr Thomas, who lives in Ringlestone, said: “Mum collapsed as soon as I pulled up. Her nose and lips were blue and her ankles were swollen. She was barely conscious.”

Paramedics arrived and repeatedly shocked the grandmother’s heart to establish a stable beat.

She was taken by ambulance to Maidstone’s accident and emergency department.

She was then transferred to St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where she is still recovering and undergoing tests.

Speaking from a ward, Mrs Thomas said: “I can’t really remember much other than I couldn’t move. I feel better than I did but I know I’m lucky to be alive.”

Debra Thomas with husband Arthur and children Lacy and Dylan
Debra Thomas with husband Arthur and children Lacy and Dylan

It’s now believed the mother-of-two may have an underlying heart condition and was potentially misdiagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Mr Thomas said his family intend to complain to Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT).

The 27-year-old said: “I know my mum saw a psychiatrist and not a doctor but surely they could have recognised her symptoms were much more serious than a panic attack?

"Half-an-hour longer and she would have been dead" - Dylan Thomas

“I would expect an NHS service to have a certain duty of care and to call for an ambulance if someone was struggling to breathe. Half-an-hour longer and she would have been dead.”

A spokesman for the service said: “We were shocked to hear about an incident that led to Debra Thomas being rushed to A&E following a routine appointment with one of our doctors.

"As this case is currently subject to an internal investigation we are unable to comment further at this stage, except to say we wish Debra a speedy recovery.”

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