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Stuart’s thumbs down to hospital transport

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By Fiona Reid
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Stuart’s thumbs down to hospital transport

A LOCKERBIE man is recovering at home after several operations to save his thumb — and what he describes as more trauma trying to get home from hospital.

Stuart Halkett, of Leonard Crescent, severely injured his left thumb on a saw earlier this month and was taken by ambulance to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.

The next day he was transferred by ambulance to Glasgow Royal Infirmary for an eight hour reconstruction operation, plus a graft using skin and artery from his right hand. It left him heavily bandaged on both sides and incapacitated.

Complications meant he ended up staying in Glasgow until the following week and having another operation and more grafts.

He was finally due to be discharged on October 10 but no transport was available to bring him back to Lockerbie.

Stuart, an army veteran, said: “I evidently ‘didn’t qualify’ for transport home and was told to either get someone to come and collect me (no-one was available to do this) or ‘get a train’!

“Being incapacitated as I was, plus having to tote a machine attached to my injured thumb plus bags, getting a train home was a ludicrous idea; all common sense seemed to have been lost, though I understood the hospital’s need for my bed.”

After being turned down by the Patient Transport Service, his wife Anne spent the morning trying to find an alternative way to get him home but to no avail. The ward sister and Army Welfare also tried but drew a blank too.

The couple’s only option was to pay £110 for a taxi back to Lockerbie.

But that was not end of their woes as Stuart found he had not been referred to the district nursing team to get his dressings changed.

Nor could he get an appointment at his doctors’ surgery when his graft started weeping as they were experiencing staff sickness.

Subsequently, it was discovered in an outpatient appointment back at Glasgow that he had an infection and he has now been prescribed antibiotics and a nursing referral has finally been made.

“The accident itself was a trauma. What ensued after regarding trying to get home was in itself more trauma. Trying to get help once I got home is another,” said Stuart.

Exasperated and frustrated at what he’s endured, he has written to Dumfries and Galloway NHS chief bosses calling for a better transport service to get people back home if they are sent outwith the region for treatment.

And he said: “Patients should be returned to their home area by the same mode of transport used to get them there in the first place.

“Not all of us have family or friends who are able to endure this journey, let alone bear the responsibility of ensuring safe home travel to patients who are indeed uncomfortable and in pain.

“In trying to get help with travel, each hospital involved denied responsibility for getting me home.

“Whilst I will remain eternally grateful for the medical care I received, and cannot stress how wonderful the emergency department at Dumfries was and the plastic surgeons at Glasgow Royal, as well as the ambulance crews, I have felt let down concerning the patient conveyance and I know I am far from alone.”

The NHS say they are unable to comment due to patient confidentiality.

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