An bewildered grandmother was forced to walk home from hospital in just her dressing gown, nightie and slippers in the middle of the night.
Barbara Hazzard, 74, was discharged by medics just four hours after arriving at the hospital in an ambulance.
Despite the fact she had been suffering from severe heart pain, she was advised she could go home at 3am.
But the pensioner, who was being treated at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, was told NHS Lothian do not provide transport to take patients home.
The grandmother-of-six was left with the options of either phoning a taxi or taking a bus – which would not turn up for another six hours.
Disorientated Barbara had no money with her, as she had no time to pick it up before the ambulance journey, and no family members were available to collect her.
She told staff this but, in a panic and still feeling unwell, she left and started the hour-and-a-half walk to her home in the West Lothian village of Blackburn – five miles away.
Not knowing which way to go she tried to retrace the route taken by her local bus service.
Barbara said: “God forbid it should happen to anyone else. It makes me afraid.
“I spent most of the next day in bed thinking I could have been murdered.
“I was carrying a bag with drugs in it in my hand – I could have been attacked.
“I could have been knocked over by a car.”
Barbara has already had a double bypass and three stents put in her heart and also suffers from type 2 diabetes.
After feeling well for some time, she suddenly started to feel pains in her chest a few weeks ago, and booked an appointment to see a cardiologist, but she was told if she felt ill to call an ambulance.
She said: “On Saturday night the pain started up and got worse. I phoned for an ambulance and it came. The team were great.
“The doctor was really good. He did all the checks he could do and at 3am said I could go home to rest and the cardiologist could take it from there on Tuesday.
“I was in my nightie, dressing gown and slippers – and had no knickers on either.
“I asked a nurse if I could have transport home to Blackburn and she said ‘no, there’s a phone over there for taxis’.
“I said, ‘that’s no good for me, I haven’t got money with me. All I have is a bag with my medicines and my keys in my pocket’.
“I was told I would have to phone some relatives but my daughter is up in ward 25 as a patient.”
Another nurse then suggested Barbara sit on a plastic seat and wait for the bus – which would not turn up until 9am.
She added: “I said I still had no money for my bus fare or my bus card and she just walked away. The other nurse just shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘well, that’s it’.
“So I turned on my heels and walked out the door. I started to walk the route of the number 21 bus which goes all the way to Whitburn.”
Fortunately, a police van appeared a short distance into her walk and she was taken home by two worried police officers.
She said: “The police came out and said to me ‘where do you think you’re going at this time of night?’
“I said, ‘I’m going to my home in Blackburn’. They said, ‘you can’t walk home, let’s get you in’.”
Once home and after a long sleep, Barbara realised just how dangerous a situation she had been in.
She said: “I know now I never would have been to able to walk it. I have arthritis in my feet. I started panicking.
“I’m divorced and live on my own. My daughter stays in Livingston and my nearest grandson stays in Kinross.
“My son was at a wedding in Perth. He is raging and waiting to see what the outcome is.
“He said, ‘mother you could have died’.
“I don’t know what the nurse thought I was. Where did she think I had come from? She just didn’t think.
“If someone could give me an answer as to what I should have done then I would be willing to hear it.”
Jim Crombie, acting chief executive of NHS Lothian, said they had launched an investigation.
He said: This was a distressing and upsetting episode for Mrs Hazzard and I would like to apologise to her that she had this experience following care in one of our hospitals.
“Mrs Hazzard has contacted us directly and we are investigating thoroughly to establish what happened. We will be in contact with her as soon as possible.”