‘Broken back’ builder slams East Lancashire health care

He says GPs are more interested in “taking care of business instead of taking care of patients”, with getting an appointment a marathon task and home visits a distant memory.

And, he says, he has personal experience of foreign, unregistered patients being given precedence over others while he claims he has encountered staff with poor language skills in hospitals in Burnley and Blackburn.

Mr Kay’s latest encounter with health care involved six days of trying to get nursing care following a major operation. A previous encounter followed an accident in which he broke his back; it was not diagnosed for three days.

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Mr Kay has just been in hospital in France, and the contrast of his experiences there and those on his return home to Blacko, confirms his belief that money matters more than patients in this area.

It was nearly midnight when Mr Kay (57) was taken ill in France: “The village I was in is about the same size as Barrowford,” he said. “I was in agony, and don’t speak the language, but within the hour I had been admitted, X-rayed, diagnosed and medicated. Before morning, I had had a scan and been taken a bigger nearby hospital in Brive la Gare for an operation. It could not be done on the Friday as there was an emergency, but the surgeon came in on Saturday morning to remove my gall bladder. I have a tube from my abdomen that has to be removed within 21 days, and after what I had been through since coming home make me think my best option is to get back on a plane and have it done in Correzer.”

Mr Kay says he had his E111 form and was asked to pay a contribution towards his treatment. He says everyone here should have an insurance policy, similar to that in France. “I don’t want anyone to be penalised, but everyone should contribute before they are entitled have treatment,” he said.

Mr Kay’s surgery in France lasted four hours. “It took me longer than that trying to get a bandage no bigger than an envelope changed. In the end, I’ve ended up doing it myself.”

On his French surgeon’s instruction, Mr Kay went to his GP, only to be told he could neither see a practice nurse or a doctor. Another man was also asking for an appointment, for his wife. She had been in the country nine months, was pregnant, and not registered with any doctor.

“The receptionist asked for a passport and told them to wait to be seen,” said Mr Kay. “The practice manager told me they don’t do surgical dressings, and I was given a list of numbers to ring.”

Mr Kay’s holiday emergency had been signalled two years early, but hospital staff had refused to accept a referral from his GP. “The doctor had arranged a bed, but they would not give me one,” he said.

Mr Kay’s other experience at the Royal Blackburn Hospital was after an accident. “They were discharging me with a broken back,” he said. “As a builder I have a high pain threshold, but I was in a lot of pain, they were not listening; I was jolted around in wheelchairs for two days with a broken back. A chap in the next bed, who was told to lie in his own excrement, advised me to insist on being moved in my bed. I am so glad I took his advice: I had compound factures of two vertebrae, and one was pressing on my spinal chord, I could have been paralysed. It was only spotted when a locum, from Texas, insisted on sending my X-rays to a neurosurgeon at the Royal Preston.

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“It was 11pm when I arrived at Preston, and every single person there knew exactly what they were doing.

It was a different world. Blackburn Royal Hospital is a joke. It needs to be shut down.”

A spokesman from NHS East Lancashire said: “GPs in East Lancashire are dedicated to providing the best care they possibly can to their patients. However, if any patient experiences problems accessing GP or other services purchased by NHS East Lancashire then they can call NHS East Lancashire’s Patient Engagement Team on 0845 603 1068 or email [email protected] who will help to resolve the issue.”

A spokesman at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The Trust can confirm that we have received a complaint from Mr John Kay and we are currently investigating the issues raised.”