Ipswich: Why was a frail Ipswich Hospital patient refused an ambulance and despatched on an awful 93-mile taxi journey...with an open stomach wound?

The chief executive of Ipswich Hospital has ordered an ‘immediate and urgent investigation’ after it emerged a seriously ill patient was transferred 93 miles by taxi to London because the hospital allegedly refused to pay for an ambulance.

Frail Wendy Weeding was sent to St Mark’s Hospital in Harrow last Thursday with just a taxi driver for company – despite having an open wound on her stomach following two operations in December.

After the taxi got lost in the capital, the 47-year-old – who has needed constant medical care since November – had to help the driver and ask for directions.

When Mrs Weeding finally reached her north west London destination three hours and 20 minutes after leaving Ipswich, the hospital gown she had travelled in was sodden with fluid from the wound on her abdomen.

This had been covered by a simple dressing and Mrs Weeding was not given extra clothing or bandages for the journey.

Upon arriving at the hospital, her husband Andy said she was “dumped” in the building’s reception.

Mr Weeding said he received a call from his wife on the day she was transferred asking if he would take her to St Mark’s because Ipswich Hospital was unwilling to pay �500 for an ambulance.

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The Hintlesham resident phoned his wife’s ward to try to ensure Mrs Weeding was transported properly.

He said: “I said it was absolutely disgraceful to consider sending a woman in my wife’s condition to a hospital in another part of the country in a car without any kind of medical supervision.”

The average cost of a taxi from Ipswich Hospital to Harrow is �120.

Since being admitted to hospital on November 24, Ms Weeding has spent two weeks in intensive care and has been waiting for a bed in St Mark’s for four or five weeks where specialists will treat her rare bowel condition.

Mr Weeding, a delivery driver, said: “I couldn’t believe it when Wendy called and said she had been sent in a taxi.

“Her stomach is more or less open with just a dressing covering where the bile from the wound comes out. I am absolutely furious.”

A former carer, Mrs Weeding has been in and out of hospital for the past 20 years because of her stomach ailment.

She has lost six stone in weight since her condition worsened last year, has to be fed through a tube and is taking painkillers to dull the agony in her bowel.

Andrew Reed, chief executive of The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust said: “Mr Weeding has described an appalling lapse of standards that could not be justified by any hospital.

“I have ordered an immediate and urgent investigation to establish both the facts and the reasons behind Mrs Weeding’s experience, and I have extended a personal apology to the family.”

Since speaking to the Evening Star, Mr Weeding has been invited to a meeting with Mr Reed which will take place later this week.

Has this happened to you or someone you know? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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