Hospital ordeal for grandad with head injury: family’s fury

Mr Jack Cardwell and his daughter Mrs Sue Topping (s)
Mr Jack Cardwell and his daughter Mrs Sue Topping (s)

A grandad was made to wait more than seven hours to see a doctor after he injured his head so severely you could see his skull, was left fighting for his life after doctors patched his wound and sent him home twice with painkillers.

Mr Jack Cardwell (84) was left waiting on a trolley in a Royal Blackburn Hospital corridor for four hours and then sent home after being patched up with butterfly strips and given painkillers.

wound

wound

But he was then rushed back into hospital in a critical condition battling a chest infection and was placed in a high dependency unit six days after the fall which left him with a severed nerve above his eye.

His distraught daughter, Mrs Sue Topping, who is keeping a bedside vigil by her father, said: “All this could have been avoided if my dad had been treated correctly when he first went to hospital. The fact he was left waiting on a trolley in a corridor for four hours and was not considered a priority or given a bed when he fell at first and injured himself so badly is unbelievable. We are not blaming the staff, it is the system that is at fault.

“The place was like a war zone and it was clear the staff could not cope with the amount of patients coming in.”

The family’s ordeal began last Thursday after retired lorry driver Mr Cardwell waited two hours for an ambulance to arrive after he fell at Dove Court Nursing Home, Burnley. He was then left for four hours on a trolley in a corridor until a cubicle became available.

Mrs Topping, who was with her sister, Mrs Anne Hargreaves, added: “The doctor did not even remove the bandage paradmedics had put on my dad’s head until we told him how serious we thought the injuries were by showing him a photo we had taken.”

The sisters were left fuming when medics told nurses to repair the wound with butterfly strips before advising him to return home and take painkillers. Mrs Topping said: “My dad was in a lot of pain and we expected them to carry out a scan considering it was a head injury. He fell at 9am and was not seen by a doctor until 4-30pm.”

Mr Cardwell was sent to the Royal Preston Hospital two days later, on Sunday, to see about a skin graft for the injury but his notes had not been forwarded so he was sent home again.

Mrs Topping, of Cog Lane, Burnley, said: “There seems to be a total lack of communication in the NHS.”

Just hours later, at 5am on Monday, Mr Cardwell was rushed back to the Royal Blackburn with severe head pains. Mrs Topping said: “He said he felt like his head was going to explode but was given a quick examination and told to return home and take more painkillers. They did not even change his bandage which was soaked in blood.”

Mr Cardwell was rushed into hospital for a third time on Tuesday after he started vomiting and became incoherent. A scan was carried out and the results came back clear. He was put on antibiotics for the chest infection and is now recovering on a ward.

Mrs Topping’s partner, Mr Jack Nadin, said the NHS was “in meltdown”. “The staff simply cannot cope. Jack is a real fighter, a very spirited man who never likes to complain and he is rallying round but all this has been too much for him.”

However, Gillian Simpson, Director of Operations at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Mr Cardwell received a high standard of care when he was examined and treated by staff in our Emergency Department.

“Any concern that the treatment Mr Cardwell received was below the required standard would be treated very seriously. We are sorry a patient and their family feel it necessary to go to the media with their concerns and request the family to raise any issues they may have directly with the Trust.”