UK Hospital turns away pensioner because staff had gone home for the weekend
Pensioner, 89, turned away from hospital because staff had gone home for the weekend
John Mellalieu was told he could not be admitted to hospital because he arrived too late in the day
By Agencies6:12AM GMT 19 Dec 2013
A pensioner has told how her 89-year-old husband was turned away from hospital after suffering a stroke – because staff had gone home for the weekend.
Ruth Mellalieu, 84, said she was stunned when nurses told her that husband John could not be admitted last week as she had arrived at the hospital too late in the day.
The frail pensioner has now been left in intensive care at Nottingham’s City Hospital – after he was diverted 13 miles from Kings Mill Hospital, in Mansfield, Notts.
Mrs Mellalieu has accused the hospital of treating her husband like an animal after the ambulance was forced to take the 25-minute detour.
She said: “We were in the ambulance on its way to King’s Mill when, at three minutes to five, the crew got the message not to take him there.
“They said the man in the stroke unit was going for the weekend – and we should take my husband to City Hospital instead.
“My husband was a vet and he never turned away a cat, a dog or a horse at weekends.
“He worked 24/7 and for four years he never had a holiday.
“It’s a disgrace how he was treated like a second rate citizen.”
Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs King’s Mill Hospital, said it would investigate what happened alongside East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS).
A spokeswoman at King’s Mill said the hospital’s hyper-acute stroke thrombolysis unit operated from 8am on Mondays to 6pm on Fridays.
She added that it takes about one hour to treat a patient so the agreed cut off time for receiving new patients is 5pm on Friday afternoons.
She said: “Outside these times, we have an arrangement that patients go to the Nottingham stroke team.”
Mr Mallalieu’s treatment comes just days after NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh announced that consultants’ contracts will be rewritten so that they can no longer refuse to work at weekends.
Sir Bruce said the patients-first changes will be made to ensure consistent standards of care seven days a week.
Research earlier this year found that 4,400 people die every year due to inadequate staff cover at weekends.
According to a study based on hospital admissions in 2009-10, the risk to patients of dying on Saturdays was 11 per cent higher than in the week and 16 per cent on Sundays.
The guarantee of diagnostic tests at weekends, and the presence of consultants capable of interpreting the results, would reduce those odds.
Sir Bruce said: “There is a clause which says that organisations can’t force a consultant to work the weekend – I think we can have that clause removed.”
An East Midlands Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “Mrs Mallalieu had not contacted us to share her concerns.
“We will now contact her to confirm that we are carrying out an investigation to establish the facts and that we will provide her with full details of our findings.”