Ill clergyman 'stranded' in Spain

A CLERGYMAN from west Suffolk has been told he will remain stranded in Spain after undergoing emergency neurosurgery because there are apparently no suitable beds for him in East Anglia.

A CLERGYMAN from west Suffolk has been told he will remain stranded in Spain after undergoing emergency neurosurgery because there are apparently no suitable beds for him in East Anglia.

Canon David Wall, 67, was on holiday with his wife, Sally, on the island of Menorca when a pain in his shoulder worsened and his arms and legs went numb.

Mr Wall, who is a retired vicar from Barrow, near Bury St Edmunds, was airlifted to Palma on the neighbouring island of Mallorca where he underwent a five hours of surgery for an infectious cyst which began to impact on his spinal cord on October 21.

Last night his family told how the former Army chaplain was now stranded on the island because the insurance firm dealing with his case says it has been unable to find him a spare intensive care neurology bed.

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But last night a spokeswoman for Addenbrooke's Hospital said discussions were ongoing as to where the best place would be for Mr Wall to be treated.

The family say they have been told all the suitable beds in East Anglia are currently full and Mr Wall will have to wait until a space becomes available.

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Mrs Wall yesterday revealed her husband was still on a respirator and has not spoken or moved since the operation.

She said: “We are desperate to get him home so that he can begin his recovery. But we are told that no beds are available for him. The insurance company is ready to bring him back to the UK at any time via air ambulance but there is nowhere to put him.”

Mrs Wall is currently staying at a hotel close to the hospital with her second son Nicholas.

Speaking from his home in London last night, Simon Wall, 31, Mr Wall's youngest son, criticised the NHS for using a postcode radius system to find his father a bed.

He said: “It is crazy. They only seem to be looking within a certain area based on a postcode.

“London would be fine, as would Peterborough. It is the National Health Service after all so surely they can find a bed nationally and not just locally.”

The couple's eldest son James, 38, who lives in Denver, said his mother was terrified of Mr Wall awaking and finding himself not only unable to move, because of the operation, but also in a foreign country.

Richard Spring, Mr Wall's MP, described the situation as “ridiculous”.

He said: "The treatment is required and the most important thing is that he gets the treatment he needs.

“The Government boasts of the fact that it has increased flexibility and introduced all this 'choice' but is now apparently telling this individual he can only go to one hospital.

“Its just bureaucracy gone mad and I feel extremely sorry for him (Mr Wall). He wants to be treated and the NHS should be flexible enough to respond to that.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said she was not aware of a policy, which restricted patients such as Mr Wall to treatment at the closest possible appropriate hospital to their home.

A spokeswoman for Addenbrooke's Hospital said: “We have beds available but it's a clinical decision about where would be best for him to be treated. Those discussions are ongoing between doctors in Spain, Addenbrooke's and west Suffolk, where he is from.

“If it is decided the best place for him to be treated was here, then we would have a bed waiting for him.”

Mr Wall is well known in Suffolk and he helps out at a number of churches including All Saints Church in Barrow.

Nick Clarke, communications director for the diocese of St Edmundsbury, said: “We were saddened to hear about Canon Wall's illness. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. We hope he will make a full recovery and can come home at the earliest opportunity.”

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