Colchester: Patient tells of hospital switch ordeal

A FORMER councillor who believed he was close to death has criticised an Essex hospital after he was driven to an intensive care unit in another county.

Don Quinn, 61, was left fighting for his life after he was taken ill at his home in Colchester.

Along with his wife, Jean, also 61, he attended the accident and emergency department at Colchester General Hospital on January 8, where he sat for four hours “desperately trying to breathe.”

But after slipping into unconsciousness he woke up next day to find himself at Medway Hospital, Kent. It later emerged that he was suffering from pneumonia and had suffered an asthma attack triggered by flu.

Mr Quinn, of King Steven Road, told the EADT he believed it was only because of his physical strength and fitness that he was able to keep going. “If I had not been so fit I would be dead,” he said. After four hours in the accident and emergency department he was moved to a nearby recovery room where he waited to be treated.

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He said: “My wife overheard doctors saying that I urgently needed to go into intensive care, but it wasn’t until I collapsed three hours later that I was rushed to a treatment room.

“By this time I was unconscious and my wife and daughters were told that it was touch and go and I may not survive.

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“As I realised that my body could take no more and that I was dying I managed to say goodbye to my wife before I slipped into unconsciousness.”

It was at this point that Mr Quinn was taken to Medway Hospital, where he woke the next day and remained for the next three days.

Mr Quinn added: “It was a nightmare, and I believe that it is all down to cuts. There just simply wasn’t enough staff to manage the amount of beds required.

“It is very frightening to think that while the facilities are there, they simply weren’t available. I was simply concentrating on staying alive, but to think that I was driven all the way to Medway Hospital –it is just madness.”

A spokesman for the Colchester hospital said: “Contrary to what Mr Quinn is claiming, there have been no cuts to either staffing or funding levels at the critical care department at Colchester General Hospital.

“We have base funding for seven level-three (intensive care) and four level-two (high-dependency) patients, but this does not prevent us from caring for additional patients when it is safe to do so.

“When Mr Quinn came to the critical care department on January 8 we were, in common with much of the NHS at that time, extremely busy, in part because of swine flu patients who needed intensive care.

“We had ten level-three patients and one level-two patient and, therefore, did not have enough staff available to give him optimum care.

“Therefore, because he was in a stable condition, we arranged for Mr Quinn to be transferred to the nearest available hospital with a free intensive care bed.”

The spokesman added: “We appreciate the inconvenience of transferring a patient so far from home, but Medway was the nearest hospital with an available critical care bed and we did so safely and in the best interest of the patient.”

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