Year-old internet posts are no basis for scandal claims, say health chiefs

HEALTH service chiefs in Grimsby were upset to find one of their hospitals being quoted as an example of a national scandal yesterday – irrelevantly and unfairly, they claimed.

The medical director of the NHS, Sir Bruce Keogh, promised an inquiry after The Times published evidence that hundreds of thousands of patients were being sent home in the middle of the night because of pressure for bed space.

The story drew attention to a website called Patient Opinion, including a posting from somebody claiming to be a member of staff at the Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby.

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The whistleblower said: “An 82-year-old lady fell and broke her wrist. She was taken to A&E and it was x-rayed and set in a pot. The lady was sent home at 3am and was expected to manage all alone with no care.

“A 94-year-old gentleman was sent home from hospital at 1am after being taken in earlier by ambulance with breathing problems. On arrival back at his flat, it became clear that he could not get out of the car without his wheelchair, that was locked in his flat on the 10th floor. The taxi driver refused to go and get it and a support officer from the building had to be called out.

“An 80-year-old gentleman was sent home in the early hours of the morning after suffering chest pains. The staff of A&E felt it was appropriate to give the gentleman morphine and put him in a taxi with just a thin pair of pyjamas.

“The gentleman died several hours later of a heart attack.”

A patient in the Isle of Wight said he was sent home barefoot at 4.30 am.

He wrote: “I was barefoot, in my night clothes, and had no money, having been brought in by ambulance.

“The buses weren’t running and I eventually had to go home by taxi and pay a £40 fare as I live in West Wight.”

Angie Smithson, director of operations for the trust overseeing the Grimsby hospital, said: “This report is based on someone claiming to be a member of staff posting on the internet 16 months ago.”

Her press officer added: “We have no way of checking this information and anyway, it is irrelevant to the story under discussion, which is about night discharges of in-patients, for which we have one of the lowest figures in the country.

“All these examples are from A&E.”