Pensioner pushed from ‘pillar to post’ at Hitchin Hospital

A PENSIONER who stayed at a Hitchin hospital was “pushed from pillar to post” according to her husband, who has claimed that both he and his wife were left in the cold after the building was closed due to a heating fault.

Myra Griffiths, 76, of Sanfoine Close, Hitchin, stayed in Hitchin Hospital for one week, after breaking her ankles when on holiday in Poole.

Her husband David has said that a number of errors were made both during and after her stay, including keeping inaccurate medical notes, undertaking no home assessments and failing to provide sufficient equipment.

Mrs Griffiths was on the way back from an appointment at Lister Hospital on December 23, when her ambulance driver received a phone call from the hospital saying it would be closing.

Although she was originally offered a bed at Welwyn or Royston, Mr Griffiths claim that his wife was later told the only available space was in Bishops Stortford, a 50-mile round trip from her home.

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The couple decided it would be best to return home instead, despite the hospital declining to loan Mrs Griffiths a mattress.

“I’m usually fairly tolerant, but this was a complete breakdown of communication,” said Mr Griffiths.

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“I wasn’t happy as it felt like we were being pushed from pillar to post.

“No-one came to the house to see what equipment was needed. We really needed a mattress, but this was turned down.”

Mrs Griffiths was the last patient left at the hospital on Christmas Eve. She was picked up at 4pm.

But Mr Griffiths said that when staff came to take her home they were unaware that she had problems with both of her ankles, as did a district nurse that came to visit a few days later.

“The ambulance driver turned up with an ordinary wheelchair which was of no use, and had to call for assistance,” said Mr Griffiths.

“When the district nurse came a few days later, her notes said that it was only the right ankle that was injured, but it was both the right and the left.

“My wife had nothing to help her walk, so when the nurse came, she gave her a zimmer frame.”

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust apologised for the predicament.

“It is true that Mrs Griffiths was at Lister Hospital when other patients were informed of the forthcoming closure of Hitchin Hospital and it is unfortunate that she was given the news second hand from an ambulance driver,” said a spokesman.

“We were appraised of the fact that she could now bear her own weight for short periods. This meant that if she wished, she could go home for Christmas. This was talked through with Mrs Griffiths and her family who agreed that this is what they wanted.

“Because of the short notice we were unable to carry out a full home needs assessment and relied on information given to us by the patient.

“A walking frame was not supplied at the time but was offered by the member of the team who visited Mrs Griffiths on Boxing Day. She has subsequently been visited by members of the team on a regular basis.

“Mrs Griffiths’ family have raised a number of issues with us around the attitude of a member of staff and the miscommunication about her needs on her transfer home by ambulance. We have apologised for these instances.

“If the family have any other issues they wish to take up with us, we would be happy to talk to them at any time.”

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