A FAMILY today claimed staff at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary left their grandmother “starving” for nearly a week as an operation was repeatedly cancelled.
Magdalene Quinn was said to have been delirious after going without food.
The 88-year-old had suffered a fractured hip and was taken to A&E, being told to expect an operation within 48 hours of being checked in on December 6 last year.
She was labelled “nil by mouth” in preparation for her operation, but repeated cancellations meant she barely ate for five days.
When Mrs Quinn’s daughter Ann Bishop, 59, and granddaughter Julie Bishop, 32, visited her they said they found her weak and disorientated.
Among the causes of the cancellations was a power blackout at the hospital, for which Consort, the private firm operating the hospital for NHS Lothian, was later fined.
Julie Bishop said she did not pursue the issue at the time but said she felt compelled to speak out following the publication of a damning Health Improvement Scotland report into care of the elderly at the ERI last week.
She said: “When we arrived at A&E we were told by a doctor that her hip was definitely broken and would be operated on within 48 hours and not after. They said they usually do it within 24 but they had lots of admissions that day.
“But then the operation was cancelled and we were told it would be the next day. Each day we went we found out it had been cancelled and that she had not been given anything to eat all day. On the third day my gran was very disoriented, taking about her brother who had been dead 20 years and flying birds in the ward.
“I was very distressed to see her like this.”
Mrs Quinn was eventually allowed home after around six weeks, having been kept in for treatment for an unrelated medical condition.
NHS Lothian apologised to the family but insisted that Mrs Quinn was able to eat something on a number of occasions when it became clear the operation would not go ahead.
Mrs Bishop said her grandmother had been given a sandwich for dinner each day the operation was cancelled, and claimed her medical sheets showed she had lost a stone during the wait, which NHS Lothian disputed.
Dr David Farquharson, medical director, said: “We apologise to Mrs Quinn and her family if they feel the care received was below the standard they should be able to expect from NHS Lothian.
“Mrs Quinn was prepared for surgery on three days which meant she was unable to eat in the run up to the operation. Due to high patient numbers and then a deterioration in Mrs Quinn’s condition, the procedure did not take place as hoped. Instead it went ahead on the fourth day.
“However on each occasion, Mrs Quinn was able to eat later in the day and her family were kept fully informed throughout.”