Wanderering patient found in pyjamas a mile from hospital
8:57am Wednesday 13th March 2013 in News
AN ELDERLY man walked more than a mile from the Royal Bolton Hospital in his pyjamas and dressing gown before he was stopped and taken in by a hairdresser.
The 76-year-old had managed to leave ward D2 at the hospital, walk out of the main building and out of the hospital grounds without a member of staff spotting him.
The confused man was eventually stopped by concerned Vanessa Smith, who called the hospital to get them to collect him.
The revelation comes after a 90-year-old man, who was reported missing from the Royal Bolton Hospital at 10am on Saturday, March 2, was discovered in Bristol, 175 miles away.
An investigation has been launched at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust as to how this man, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, was able to leave the hospital.
Hairdresser Vanessa Smith, who helped the 76-year-old man, is concerned other elderly patients could also leave unnoticed.
Ms Smith said she spotted the man walk past her shop, Real Hair Style, in Harper Green Road, wearing just his dressing gown and pyjamas, in the freezing weather on January 5.
She said he was “very confused” and was wearing a hospital wrist band for ward D2.
Ms Smith took him into the shop for a cup of tea and called the hospital.
A Police Community Support Officer arrived shortly afterwards, but Ms Smith said there was “no urgency” from hospital staff and he was not collected for half an hour.
“I couldn’t believe that in all that distance, no police or ambulance staff or somebody from the hospital didn’t see him walking down the road. The way he would have come is a good half an hour’s walk,” she said.
M Smith said it had been a “particularly cold day” and she was concerned the man would become ill.
Heather Edwards, head of communications at the Trust, said they could not comment on individual cases.
But she said a patient could not be made to stay in hospital unless they were under a Deprivation of Liberty Order (DOL), which is made by a doctor and a psychiatrist, or if a patient was considered to be in imminent danger and not mentally fit to make their own decisions.
She added: “Ward staff and security staff would try to persuade a patient to go back to their ward if they are outside of the hospital and might leave the site but have no powers to force them back even if they are in their pyjamas.”
Gareth Evans, the chief officer of Age UK Bolton, said there had to be “balance” between hospital care and allowing people to come and go as they pleased.
He added: “There’s a duty of care on the part of the hospital for the wellbeing and safety of anyone in their care, but there also has to be a realisation that a hospital isn’t a prison, there has to be some freedom but within safe boundaries.”