‘Discharged’ patient, 83, in 150-day wait for care package

George Ballantyne is still waiting to be discharged from Liberton Hospital. Picture: contributed
George Ballantyne is still waiting to be discharged from Liberton Hospital. Picture: contributed
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THE daughter of a man stuck in hospital for five months because there is no home-care package available today told of his frustration at being unable to go home.

Anne Ballantyne said her father George, 83, who was cleared for discharge from Liberton Hospital in June, had his hopes raised after staff told him he would be able to leave.

He is becoming more withdrawn. When I ask him how he is now, he only points to the sad face

Anne Ballantyne

But she said he was now deteriorating after the disappointment of finding out he was not going home after all.

Mr Ballantyne has difficulty speaking after a stroke some years ago but uses a pointer board to communicate. His daughter said: “When I ask him how he is now, he only points to the sad face.”

Mr Ballantyne’s case was raised in the Scottish Parliament by Edinburgh Western Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, who pointed out he had now spent 150 days in Liberton Hospital since being declared fit to leave. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the situation was “unacceptable”.

Mr Ballantyne was admitted to hospital in March after a fall. His daughter said he had received good care and had made better progress than she had expected. His flat in a sheltered housing complex in Corstorphine has been fitted with equipment to help him cope at home, including handrails, a commode and an electric bed-raiser.

Ms Ballantyne said: “They took him for a home visit in June to assess his needs in the house and within a week the equipment was there. The home visit raised his hopes – but then nothing happened.

“The social worker said there was no package of care available, but as soon as there was they would let us know. The weeks went into months and the months went on.

“Then on October 6 hospital staff told my dad he was getting out. I thought that was great but I was surprised since the social worker hadn’t been in touch. I asked if they were sure there was a package in place and they said yes.

“Eventually it turned out there wasn’t. My dad was really disappointed when they told him. The nurse who had to break the news said she was devastated for him.

“It’s really sad to see and he is becoming more withdrawn.

“They have been very good at getting him back on his feet. But I don’t think he believes he is ever going to get out of there.

“He’s a quiet, kind man who doesn’t like to bother anyone, but we feel distressed and let down by the social care system.”

Rob McCulloch Graham, joint director of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Nobody wants patients to stay in hospital longer than is necessary. Edinburgh Hospitals, like many others, have seen a recent increase in the number of patients waiting to be discharged.

“The Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership is working hard with home care providers, care homes and hospitals to address these delays. This is a top priority for us all.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com