A frail gran with advanced dementia has finally received the orthopaedic bed her family have been fighting for that will allow better care for her at her son’s home.
Horrified Shalabh Gupta was left horrified when he found his “semi-nude” mum soaked in her own urine in bed in a “hospital staff café”.
Shalabh shared shocking video footage with Lanarkshire Live of his 76-year-old mum, Shakuntala, alone in the area at Hairmyres Hospital – an area used as a dining room for staff and for storing bins, boxes and furniture.
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He says hospital claimed they had to move his mum from a ward to make way for an emergency and that she was taken to the communal area because she is in the UK illegally without citizenship.
He says his confused mum – who didn’t know where she was – was left with “no privacy and no dignity,” without a curtain or screen around her bed.
After Lanarkshire Live and sister newspapers the Daily Record and East Kilbride News highlighted the family’s plight, NHS Lanarkshire reversed its decision to refuse to provide a profile bed for care at home because of Shakuntala’s immigration status.
We also drew the story to the attention of the Home Office.
After a seven-year battle to gain British citizenship for his mum, an elated Shalabh received a call from the UK Government to advise that they are again looking into his mother’s case.
It’s a glimmer of hope for Shalabh, his wife and two children – all of whom have British citizenship – that Shakuntala may finally be granted legal status and receive the care and support she needs at their home in East Kilbride.
And he says the breakthrough has come, all thanks to news coverage on Lanarkshire Live.
Shakuntala – who has advanced vascular dementia, is incontinent and has to be spoon-fed – was discharged from Hairmyres on Wednesday after a three-week stay following a fall in which she suffered a hair-line fracture to her pelvis.
Her son says she’s much more comfortable and content now that she is home with them in the specialist bed in Cheviot Crescent.
Shalabh – who has lodged a formal complaint about the matter through the NHS Lanarkshire website – came to the UK from India in January 2006 and was joined by his immediate family four years later.
When Shakuntala came to stay with them on a visitor’s visa from India in 2010, they noticed her memory was failing.
After a private consultation at the Priory Hospital in Glasgow, she was diagnosed with vascular dementia and her health has since declined rapidly. Her care has been provided solely by Shalabh and his family.
He has a doctor’s letter stipulating that his mother – who has never been in hospital in the UK before – is medically unfit to travel.
He claims a member of staff at Hairmyres told him it was likely he would receive a bill for her care there because she is in the UK illegally.
Worried, he told us : “I am on Universal Credit and I also work as a carer for my wife and mother, so I am unable to bear fees or NHS charges.”
Saying that they do not comment on individual cases, a government spokesman told Lanarkshire Live that all primary medical care services – whether provided at a GP surgery or elsewhere – are available without charge to anyone in the country, “for whatever reason and regardless of immigration status”.
Shalabh says the Home Office official who called him this week told him to expect a letter requesting medical evidence of his mother’s condition.
“I think he might actually take action and give her a legal status, which would be really great,” he told us.
“I think it is all thanks to the media. These people do not move until somebody shouts about it. For seven years, I was fighting a case against the Home Office to get a decision and I got nowhere – just rejections.
“Things just went on and on, and nothing happened.”
Shalabh added: “Before, when we requested an NHS orthopaedic bed at home, it came back denied because her status is illegal. Now, she’s got the bed and she is definitely a lot happier now she’s home.
“In hospital, she was staring at the ceiling for four or five hours at a time. Now, she has somebody to talk to. At least she knows there’s somebody there and she’s less anxious.”
When asked to comment on Shakuntala’s move to Hairmyres’ staff dining area, Lise Axford, chief of nursing services at the hospital expressed regret.
She told us : “We regret any instance where someone feels we have failed to provide the highest standard of care.
“Unfortunately, it was necessary to accommodate this patient for a four-hour period in the ward day room. The patient’s family were appraised of the reasons for the move at the time.
“We ask patients and families to raise any concerns with staff at the time so they can resolve any issues.
“We have a complaints process via our patient affairs team and would always encourage anyone to contact us in this way if they wish to raise any concerns to allow them to be fully investigated.
“The site continues to experience extremely high demand for inpatient beds and in response to this an additional 30 beds have been opened on site and we continue to make best use of all available space in the ward areas to manage the current exceptional demands.
“Due to patient confidentiality, we cannot discuss individual cases.”
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email@example.com (Niki Tennant)