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Family’s outrage after ‘lifeline’ iPad stolen from disabled woman’s Ipswich Hospital bedside

PUBLISHED: 10:01 28 November 2017

Heather Whiting with her sister Caroline Wales in Needham Ward at Ipswich Hospital.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Heather Whiting with her sister Caroline Wales in Needham Ward at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

An Ipswich woman has spoken of her disgust after an iPad was stolen from her severely disabled sister’s hospital bedside.

Heather Whiting is being treated at Ipswich Hospital after breaking her hip. Picture: PHIL MORLEYHeather Whiting is being treated at Ipswich Hospital after breaking her hip. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Caroline Wales said the tablet was her 52-year-old sister Heather Whiting’s “lifeline” as it helped her to communicate and kept her calm.

Miss Whiting was brain damaged from birth and she is currently receiving treatment at Ipswich Hospital after she broke her hip for the second time in eight weeks.

Parents Ron and Shirley left their daughter in the Needham Ward around 7pm on Friday and when Miss Whiting’s carers visited her the following morning the iPad was gone.

Mrs Wales, 42, said: “I can’t quite believe it. Any theft is appalling but to steal something from a disabled person who can’t communicate or get out of bed is a disgraceful act and we are absolutely devastated.

“My parents keep crying because they can’t understand why someone would do this.

“It’s not the monetary value, I can buy her another one, it’s the fact someone has made that decision to steal from someone clearly so vulnerable.

“I feel like I need to shame this person into thinking about their actions as the knock-on effect it will have is immense.”

The family is from Ipswich and Miss Whiting lives in a bungalow in Great Finborough where she receives 24-hour care.

Mrs Wales, who is Miss Whiting’s legal guardian and describes her as “my world”, said her sister used the tablet to speak to her parents over Facetime and she would kiss the screen when she saw them.

The iPad, which is in a chunky blue case, is equipped with specially-designed apps for Miss Whiting and she also uses it to listen to music.

“It’s her lifeline, she gets so much pleasure out of it,” Mrs Wales added. “Her anxieties can get extremely high which can make her behaviour challenging so that’s why we took the iPad to her because it would keep her calm.”

Mrs Wales praised the care Miss Whiting had received at the hospital as “amazing” and said staff had been supportive and just as outraged by the theft as the family had been.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said: “We are all very saddened by this incident and are hoping that this very special IPad will be returned to Heather immediately.”

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