03:00PM, Saturday 13 August 2016
A grandfather was forced to spend seven hours waiting for treatment in a hospital A&E after being turned away from an out-of-hours treatment centre.
When 75-year-old Derek New fell out of bed and banged his head on Sunday, July 31, wife Jo was keen to have him checked out quickly.
Seeing he was badly shaken but not in any obvious or immediate danger, rather than calling an ambulance, she decided to drive him from their home in Highfield Lane, Cox Green, to the Urgent Care Centre at St Mark’s Hospital, in St Mark’s Road.
Arriving at around 10am, she left Derek in the car while she went inside, only to be told by staff that they would not treat him because he was over 75.
Instead, Jo, 71, had to take her husband, who at the time was also under the care of a neurologist after collapsing several times – including once when he broke his wrist – to the A&E department at Wexham Park Hospital, in Slough.
Luckily for ex-tool maker Derek, a cut lip and a black eye were the worst of his injuries.
However, when contacted by the Advertiser, Dr Sajid Ali, medical director with East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours, which runs the Urgent Care Centre at St Mark's, said there was no official policy to refuse treatment to over-75s.
He declined to comment further, except to issue a statement, saying: “We are unable to comment on individual cases, and so far we have not received any correspondence from the individual concerned.”
The situation left Mr and Mrs New frustrated at a system which appeals for patients to make use of walk-in and urgent care centres, rather than clogging up ambulance services and A&E departments with minor injuries and ailments.
“It’s quite frightening that you have to go to Wexham Park if you’re 75 or over,” said Jo, a former hairdresser.
“It’s fortunate I can drive, but what if we had had to get a taxi all the way there?
“A taxi to St Mark’s wouldn’t have been so bad but going all the way to Wexham?
“They say people shouldn’t call an ambulance unless it’s necessary – that’s why we went to St Mark’s.”