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Concern for missing hospital patient

PUBLISHED: 23:34 09 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

CONCERN was last night growing for the safety of an elderly patient who went missing from his hospital bed on Saturday wearing a pair of pyjamas and bedroom slippers.

CONCERN was last night growing for the safety of an elderly patient who went missing from his hospital bed on Saturday wearing a pair of pyjamas and bedroom slippers.

Thomas Pilfold was last seen by nursing staff on his ward at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, only 15 minutes before he disappeared at 5pm and despite three searches of the building and its grounds no-one had seen the dehydrated and "possibly confused" pensioner since.

Police say searches of countryside surrounding the hospital, particularly the road leading to Haverhill – Mr Pilfold's home town, will intensify this morning if there is still no sign of the retired engineer.

A Suffolk police spokesman said: "We are growing increasingly concerned for the welfare of Mr Pilfold. No-one appears to have seen him and given what we believe him to be wearing he would certainly stand out on public transport or walking.

"We are particularly concerned for Mr Pilfold's welfare as he was receiving treatment for dehydration and may also be confused. He may be still in the Bury area or attempting to get home to Haverhill."

The spokesman said police officers, dozens of volunteers from the Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue team, search dogs, hospital staff and the Suffolk police helicopter had all been involved in the search for Mr Pilfold but no trace of him had been found.

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said "People will search through the night – the hospital is very concerned for him."

He said the three searches carried out in and around the hospital already had included a face-to-face meeting with every male patient in the hospital by staff who were caring for Mr Pilfold to ensure he had not somehow ended up on another ward.

He said the pensioner went missing from ward F7: "He had been talking to nurses up to 15 minutes before it was realised he was missing from the ward so he was missed very quickly. His family have been informed and have been kept up to date with the searches."

Kevin Waterson, founder of the Suffolk Search and Rescue team, said around 30 volunteers were involved in the search for Mr Pilfold on Saturday and more were drafted in yesterday. They used search techniques developed in the Highlands of Scotland and adapted for the terrain of Suffolk

He said a dog specially-trained to detect the scent of the missing man was used by the volunteers trying to trace Mr Pilfold and areas around the hospital including Hardwick Heath and the water meadows either side of Cullum Road were searched and then searched again.

Mr Waterson said a slipper was found early on in the search close to the hospital but it was later found not to belong to Mr Pilfold.

Mr Pilfold, of Frith Close, Haverhill, is 5ft 5in tall, of medium to slight build with white, wavy, collar-length hair. He was wearing green pyjamas and grey slippers.

Anyone who sees Mr Pilfold or has information about where he is should contact Sgt Mark Green on 01284 774100 or call 999.


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