An investigation is under way after an 87-year-old war veteran was assaulted in hospital by a patient wielding a metal pole.
Frail Philip Rutherford, 87, who suffered a broken hand in the attack, was asleep in the Western General when an agitated patient hit him around the head with a pole used to hang drip feeds.
The attack took place in the early hours of Thursday.
His distraught son-in-law Colin Kelly, 61, said: “It was a horror story, really.
“You don’t expect to be attacked by some maniac in the next bed.
“My father in law is 87-years-old and very frail – he was lying asleep in his bed when another patient grabbed a metal stand that the drip bags hang off and began to hit him around the head.
“The hospital phoned and said he had been in a ‘scuffle’ and had a small injury, but when we saw him we thought, ‘this is a bit more than a small injury’.
“Philip had a bleeding in the skull a few years ago that had been caused by a head injury and we are extremely worried that there could be a reoccurrence because of this. The charge nurse said it was a wee shame and at this point I was incandescent with rage.
“When we asked the hospital staff if the police had been contacted we were told they hadn’t.
“They said my father-in-law – who was dazed at the time – had said he didn’t want the police involved, but I insisted that they were. It was a shock and a trauma for us all, but most of all for Philip.”
Mr Rutherford, who lives in retirement flats in Leith, is a retired company director of an antiques store and served in the Royal Navy during the war.
It is understood the patient, who carried out the alleged attack, had undergone a serious operation, had septicaemia and was on opiates.
Colin, who lives in Leith with wife Agnes and daughters Fiona and Kirsty, said: “Other patients in the ward said the patient had been arguing and being obstructive with the hospital staff beforehand.”
He said Mr Rutherford had been in hospital for two weeks suffering from a recurring illness, adding: “My daughter Kirsty went in to visit Philip on Friday and spoke to one of the orderlies.
“He was very upset about the whole thing and said the patient who attacked my father-in-law was alcohol dependent – that doesn’t paint a very pretty picture.
“It was a time bomb waiting to go off – the staff clearly knew this man was a danger.”
Mr Rutherford is still in the hospital receiving treatment, while it is understood that the other patient has been transferred to a secure ward.
“In my view the person that attacked Philip should never have been in a ward with other patients – he should have been segregated when he was clearly arguing with the hospital staff,” said Colin.
Dr David Farquharson, Medical Director, NHS Lothian, said: “I can confirm that a patient suffered injuries following an incident in the Western General Hospital.
“We took the matter very seriously indeed, assessed the patient, provided appropriate treatment and reported it to the police.
“We have a duty of care to all of our patients and we have ensured that all relatives were informed. An investigation is under way.”
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “A 58-year-old man has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal following an alleged assault within the Western General Hospital.
“A man aged 87 suffered injuries to his face and hand during the incident, which happened in the early hours of Thursday, October 18.”