Pensioner dies days after city hospital gaffe

A PENSIONER has died just days after the Evening News told how he was abandoned on his doorstep when a hospital discharged him without telling his family.

Friday, 12th August 2016, 7:40 am
Updated Friday, 12th August 2016, 8:53 am
Alexander Withnell. Picture: Jon Savage
Alexander Withnell. Picture: Jon Savage

Alexander Withnell passed away at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary yesterday morning, following a battle with a series of health problems.

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The 78-year-old was previously admitted to hospital early last week with fluid in his lungs, but was later sent home alone in a taxi. We revealed on Monday how the Western General failed to notify his son, Melvin, 47, that his dad had been discharged – and he returned to their Colinton flat later that evening to discover him lying in the stairwell.

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Melvin said his dad had been left “distressed” in the final few days of his life following the incident. But he admitted his family had already been preparing for the worst.

He told the News: “I’m not saying that what happened last week caused this – but it didn’t help matters.

“He’s been distressed and had anxiety, which doesn’t help his heart problems. He was up sick through the night and was really unsettled since the whole thing happened.” Melvin and his mum, Isabella, 89, are now mourning their dad and husband, a former conductor for Lothian Buses and storeman at a number of garages across the city.

Mr Withnell, who suffered from heart failure among other problems, was admitted to the Western General last Monday with fluid in his lungs.

He was discharged later that evening before Melvin had finished work and was sent home in a taxi. He sat outside his flat block for 20 minutes before his wife, Isabella, noticed him and rushed downstairs.

But as she tried to lift him into the block, and up the stairs to their flat, the pair fell, and lay for another 15 minutes until Melvin returned from work.

Melvin said: “We knew my dad was very ill and the doctors had prepared us for this, but we didn’t think it would happen so quickly.

“He was admitted to hospital again at the beginning of this week.

“He had heart problems, kidney failure and diabetes among other things, and should never have been left in a taxi himself.

“I feel numb but my mum and I will think of all the good times we shared together.”

Jim Crombie, Acting Chief Executive, NHS Lothian, said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Withnell’s family at this very sad time. We have written to the family and we will contact them again shortly to see if they would like to discuss with us in greater detail.”