Delays see Gosport war veteran, 88, stuck in hospital for 19 months - even though he is fit to leave

Jill Smart from Gosport with the mountain of paper work she has had to deal with for her husband Leslie who has been in hospital for 19 months     'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180459-2)
Jill Smart from Gosport with the mountain of paper work she has had to deal with for her husband Leslie who has been in hospital for 19 months 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180459-2)
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THE loving wife of a man who has been stuck in hospital for 19 months has vowed to fight to get him out and in a more appropriate environment.

Second World War RAF veteran Leslie Smart, 88, has been on a hospital ward following a fall in September 2016.

In happier times: Leslie and Jill Smart celebrating their wedding anniversary at Gosport War Memorial Hospital

In happier times: Leslie and Jill Smart celebrating their wedding anniversary at Gosport War Memorial Hospital

Since then, his wife Jill has been trying to get him into a nursing home as he needs on-going care.

But a series of problems has seen Mr Smart remain in hospital despite no longer needing acute treatment.

Mrs Smart, 74, said: ‘Sadly my husband cannot come home because I can’t give him the care he needs. When he recovered from the fall he was assessed by the continuing healthcare team at Southern Health and it was agreed he needed to be in a nursing home and he should be discharged as soon as possible.

‘I met with them several times over the coming months but there were a number of delays including paperwork being mislaid and the processes not being followed correctly.’

He does not need to be in hospital and it is not the appropriate place for him.

Jill Smart

A letter sent by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust in March last year, seen by The News, said: ‘Mr Smart is now ready for discharge and we are very keen to facilitate this process with you’.

Originally, Mr Smart was treated for the fall at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, and transferred to Gosport War Memorial Hospital where he remained until he developed sepsis in January.

Mr Smart remains in QA where he has dementia, heart failure and lung disease.

Mrs Smart, from Gosport, added: ‘He does not need to be in hospital and it is not the appropriate place for him.

‘There is enough pressure on the NHS without him taking up a bed and there are lots of people who need his place.

‘The nurses at QA have been amazing. His dementia means he can be quite difficult to deal with and yet they have always been excellent.’

After 18 months of liaising with Southern Health, last month the family were given the devastating news they are not eligible for funding to help with the move.

Mrs Smart said: ‘I was flabbergasted at the decision, it was a total waste of time.’

The family are now working with adult social services at Hampshire County Council but Mrs Smart said there are more delays after they wanted to meet with Mr Smart to talk about his care.

She said because of his deteriorating health that was not appropriate but the council refused her request of speaking just to her.

‘I don’t know how much time my husband has left and I will fight to get him out of hospital and in a place where he can be happy,’ she added.

‘It has been really hard on all of us and he would be happier out of hospital.’

HEALTH TRUST APOLOGISES

THE trust working with a family to get elderly Leslie Smart out of hospital and into a nursing home have apologised to the family for its part in the delays.

Paula Hull, director of operations at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘I am always incredibly sad when one of our patients has been in hospital for longer than is required, particularly when we have contributed to that delay, as in this case for which we have sincerely apologised directly to the family.

‘Despite our best efforts of working with many partner organisations the patient and his family, we were unfortunately unable to find the right solution to the longer term care needs for them.

‘It is our aim to work with patients and their families and other agencies to enable people to be discharged when they are ready.

‘As part of our learning about this we are shortly starting our “Why not home, Why not today” campaign to increase awareness for staff and strengthen the voice of patients waiting to go home from hospital.’

Leslie, 88, from Gosport, was admitted to hospital when he had a fall in 2016. He is still on a hospital ward.

The family are now waiting to hear from adult social services at Hampshire County Council.

A council spokeswoman said: ‘We are always keen to work with the families of elderly and frail people who need to leave hospital, to ensure they receive appropriate care and support, should they need it.

‘Every year we help 14,000 people to return home safely, or into another care setting.

‘Once a person has been referred by a hospital to the council’s care team for an assessment to determine whether they need additional support to go home, we need the permission of the individual themselves, or if they are not able to give this, permission from the family, to be able to assess them.

‘Sometimes, families do not initially give us permission to become involved, and where this is the case, we would seek to work constructively with them to find an appropriate way forward to best meet the needs of that individual.’