THE family of a disabled man today told how he had been left “trapped” in hospital when he should have been discharged five weeks ago.
Billy Robertson, 52, who has motor neurone disease, is already paying for new supported accommodation, which he is looking forward to moving into near family and friends.
But instead he is being made to feel “like a prisoner” in the ERI because doctors will not allow him to leave until a care plan is in place and social workers have so far been unable to find him the right support.
His brother Charles said the family was desperate to find a solution for the former hotel porter, whose condition has declined so much he only has movement of his right arm.
He said: “The nature of the illness is it gets worse, so we know the clock is ticking on his freedom and quality of life.
“That’s why it’s so hard to see him in hospital, he feels like a prisoner there. We’ve got a sheltered housing place ready for him in Kingsknowe, and it’s just down the road from me.
“He’s paying for it and it’s been furnished, but there’s no care package, and we feel quite badly let down by the social services because of this.”
Council chiefs admitted the delays had been “frustrating”, but said they were optimistic a solution for Mr Robertson could be found soon.
He was admitted eight weeks ago after suffering a blood clot, which was dealt with within three weeks.
Since then Mr Robertson has effectively been a “bed blocker”.
For his family, the situation has placed extra strain on what is an already upsetting time.
“I look at pictures from three years ago and he was up dancing at my wedding,” said his 47-year-old brother.
“But it’s only me and my other brother who can care for him, and of course we have to work to look after our own families.
“We’re prepared to do as much as we can, but as we get older it becomes more difficult.
“It’s a horrible position for him too. He’s got an electric chair and he’d be able to have some freedom at this place, but every day spent in hospital is a day wasted and we’re desperate to get it sorted out.”
Labour’s health and social care spokeswoman in Edinburgh Cllr Maureen Child said: “There does seem to be a shortage of availability and expertise, which is extremely concerning.
“Hospital is not the right place for him, the NHS has done its job, and I hope something can be sorted out soon.”
Prof Alex McMahon, acting director of strategic planning and modernisation for NHS Lothian, said no-one wanted to see people in hospital longer than necessary. He said: “We continue to work closely together with council colleagues to ensure appropriate and timely discharge for all patients, so that they can receive appropriate care in the right setting.”
A council spokesman said: “We have been trying everything we can to get a care package for Mr Robertson arranged and fully understand how extremely frustrating this situation has been.
“However, yesterday we identified a potential provider who would be able to carry out the support required.”
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