Elderly Northchurch woman ‘could have frozen to death’ after hospital staff sent her home in her slippers

Wycombe Hospital
Wycombe Hospital

An elderly patient recovering from a silent heart attack “could have frozen to death” outside her own home because she was hurriedly put in a taxi by hospital staff without a coat, cash or her walking frame.

The 77-year-old Northchurch resident, who this paper has agreed not to identify, has had a torrid few months which included being separated from her husband as he moved into a care home, and being burgled as she sat in her lounge.

And it came to a head last week, when she had a fall at home and was taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital where they found she had suffered a silent heart attack.

She was transferred to Wycombe Hospital where she spent the night, but was then surprised to be discharged without any warning for her family.

The pensioner, dressed only in a dressing gown and slippers, did not have any cash, keys, or her walking frame.

There was no care package in place because she was not expecting to be discharged and the heating was turned off because she hadn’t been home.

She said: “I really wasn’t fit enough to go home but they didn’t want to know. All they wanted is my bed.

“They had been good to me but it felt as if they had thrown me out and it wasn’t a nice feeling. All I could think about was getting back to my warm home, but I was left out there – it was awful.”

She added: “I could have frozen to death. It really was quite a trauma and I would hate for it to happen to someone else.”

The woman’s experience comes at a time when social care funding is being cut across Hertfordshire.

Last month, county councillor Ron Tindall claimed that the county faced a £7million black hole in social care funding.

That money is often spent treating patients in community facilities, freeing up hospital beds while still caring for vulnerable patients before their return home.

The woman, who is writing an official letter of complaint, did say the care “could not have been better, from a medical point of view”.

Carolyn Morrice, chief nurse at the Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We are concerned to hear about this experience would encourage the woman to come forward to discuss it with us directly so we can fully understand what happened to see if there is anything we might have done differently.”

“We have clear policies in place for patients leaving hospital and our staff make every effort to ensure that patients are discharged safely after they are assessed by our clinicians to be medically fit to go home.

“Part of the discharge planning process includes identifying any additional needs for support including arranging transport for those who have no means to get home.”