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West Suffolk: Care worker claims hospital ‘seriously neglected’ woman, 91, with learning disabilities

19:19 22 January 2014

West Suffolk Hospital

West Suffolk Hospital

A care worker who claims a 91-year-old woman with learning disabilities was “seriously neglected” by hospital staff has lodged a formal complaint.

Mencap support worker Joanne Connah, from Sudbury, accompanied the woman when she was admitted to West Suffolk Hospital last Thursday.

The patient, who also has early onset dementia and is suffering from bowel cancer, was referred to the hospital after developing an infection.

Ms Connah, 24, who went to the accident and emergency department (A&E) with the patient in her own time, claims the woman was left alone in a room without proper access to toilet facilities, that her mobility issues were not taken into account, and that she was not offered a drink.

Despite vomiting and being in a confused state, the woman’s temperature was not taken until three hours after she arrived at the hospital.

Ms Connah told the EADT: “She was in the A&E department for four-and-a-half hours and in this time she was barely checked upon, had not seen a doctor and was not put on any fluids.

“I appreciate that A&E is a busy department, but her room was near a cupboard containing medical supplies so there were often nurses nearby but they did not even pop their head in to check if she was alright. If my colleague and I had not chosen to go to hospital with her, then she would have been left for that duration on her own, which is completely unacceptable.”

Ms Connah, who has now written a formal complaint, added: “(The patient) was seriously neglected by the staff at the hospital. They did not provide her with the level of care and respect she deserved and so desperately required. Instead they left a vulnerable, frail and scared 91-year-old lady to fend for herself.”

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said it had only just received the complaint and had not yet had time to look into the issues raised. But he added: “We take every complaint we receive seriously and will investigate fully.”

The complaint comes just weeks after a psychiatric liaison servicewas launched to help make it easier for patients with mental issues to be admitted to hospital.

When the service started in November, Ros Tandy, of the West Suffolk clinical commissioning group, said: “It is a common problem across the country that patients with mental health issues often wait longer for admission or treatment in hospital.

“We are now delivering a service which will improve the quality of care for these patients.”

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