Christmas ruined by hospital nightmare

PUBLISHED: 12:58 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 12:45 06 May 2010

AN ELDERLY couple say they suffered a miserable Christmas because of a series of hospital problems. Martin Falk, aged 72, of Springfield Road, St Albans, was admitted to QE2 Hospital in Welwyn Garden City on December 13 for treatment to an infected wound.

AN ELDERLY couple say they suffered a miserable Christmas because of a series of hospital problems.

Martin Falk, aged 72, of Springfield Road, St Albans, was admitted to QE2 Hospital in Welwyn Garden City on December 13 for treatment to an infected wound.

St Albans Lib-Dem prospective Parliamentary candidate Sandy Walkington, who has taken up the case on his behalf, said: "His admission turned into a chapter of frustration and bewilderment with operations being delayed, his wife Helen trapped at home recovering from a hip operation, and wholly-inadequate provision being made for essential medical supplies on his return home."

The problems began when Mr Falk was kicked by a horse while on holiday. Shortly afterwards, on November 19, his wife had hip surgery and was dependent on her husband's care. But as his wound had not healed he was admitted to QE2 by ambulance on December 13 where he was kept waiting for seven-and-a-half hours before he was admitted to a ward at 1.30am with an operation planned for the next day.

But there were several delays during which time he had no food and just a little water, and he was eventually operated on two days later on Saturday, December 15.

Delayed

It was decided he needed plastic surgery so he was moved to Lister Hospital in Stevenage the following day. He was then without food for a further two days because that operation was delayed.

On December 18 another operation was carried out to further clean the wound with a promise of the plastic surgery being carried out on Friday, December 21, so that he could be home for Christmas.

In the event the operation was not carried out until Christmas Eve and he returned home the same day. But he was sent home without an adequate supply of equipment he needed to drain his wound which meant relatives had to drive to the Lister on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to renew supplies. Adequate supplies were not delivered to his home until December 29.

Mr Falk stressed that none of his experiences were a reflection on the doctors and nurses but were mainly due to inadequate resources and inefficient management systems.

Nick Carver, chief executive of the East and North Herts NHS Trust which runs both hospitals, said he was very disappointed that both Mr Falk and Mr Walkington had chosen to bypass the hospitals' complaint system by going to the press instead.

He said: "We take all complaints seriously, irrespective of their origin. They are investigated in full and a detailed response sent to the complainant. On many occasions we will also meet with people if they are unhappy about our response. This is what we will do for Mr Falk once we receive his complaint - which we await.

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