‘Left to collapse at the checkout’ at St Albans supermarket
PUBLISHED: 18:59 17 December 2010
A DISABLED shopper collapsed and was taken to hospital by ambulance after claiming four separate staff at a St Albans supermarket ignored her repeated desperate pleas for help.
Rosemary Cross, 67, of Walton Street, St Albans suffers from long-term conditions ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), diabetes, and a strain of leukaemia. She is a loyal Morrisons customer and considers her weekly trips there a “treat”, because she is virtually housebound.
The grandmother and mother-of-three had thought she had recovered from a recent viral infection, when she was suddenly taken unwell around 4pm last Tuesday, December 7 at the Hatfield Road store.
She felt dizzy and as if she might faint while queuing. But she claimed that despite approaching four members of staff, none of them came to her aid and she finally collapsed alone, requiring emergency attention.
She said: “I couldn’t believe it. I was feeling really unwell in the queue. I was propping myself up against the counter when there was a delay with the customer in front.
“The man on the till had to call for a supervisor to deal with a special offer. I told him I was feeling really ill and asked if he could help me get somewhere safe. He just told me that the supervisor would be here soon and carried on laughing and joking with the customer in front.
“I then saw a staff member I recognised at the computer section, so I staggered over to her, explaining how bad I felt, assuming she would be more understanding, but she replied that she could not leave her till.
“I didn’t want to just abandon my trolley and leave because there were essential items like bread and milk that we needed and I thought, I am going to be unwell for some time so I had better purchase them.”
Rosemary then decided she would try to get help at the pharmacy but she thought she was going to pass out on the way there and stopped at another till where, she said, she was told to go to customer services.
She went on: “I knew I wouldn’t make it that far. The feeling of utter panic and helplessness – that no-one gives a damn and nobody is going to help me - made me feel 10 times worse.
“Even if each member of staff was too busy, they could have called someone to sit me down for a few minutes. I am sure if someone had just helped me get through a checkout and get to a chair, I would not have collapsed or needed to go to hospital.”
After collapsing on the floor Rosemary awoke to find a customer begging staff for help and they then rang 999.
Before she left in the ambulance, she arranged for her car keys to be held at the pharmacy department until family could get there to pick them up. But when daughter-in-law, Sharon Cross, of Vesta Avenue, arrived to collect them, she was told by pharmacy staff that they knew nothing of the keys. But fortunately a colleague overheard and handed them over.
Sharon added: “Rosemary considers it a treat to get out of the house and shops there every week. She is officially disabled and felt that she was going to faint, and asked if they could process her items while she sat down. Eventually, after being pushed from pillar to post and refused assistance, she collapsed in the pharmacy and was then carted off in an ambulance.”
Rosemary is now recovering at home and her husband has sent a letter of complaint to head office and to the St Albans store manager.
A Morrisons spokesman said: ““Once we had been made aware of Mrs Cross’s condition, an ambulance was called immediately and several trained members of staff, including a nurse, were on hand to make her as comfortable as possible.”