A PORTSMOUTH hospital will be reviewing the way it handles UK patients returning from overseas after it left the family of a dying Falklands war veteran feeling ‘hounded’ over his healthcare.
Charlie Trotter, 72, served for more than 29 years in the Royal Navy, including fighting in the Falklands war as a chief petty officer on board HMS Hermes.
Last year, the veteran was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer.
He decided to sell the home in Spain he had lived in for 30 years and return to the UK – but was repeatedly told by Queen Alexandra Hospital that he would not be eligible for free healthcare.
Even when the family explained he would be staying with his step-daughter and would struggle to immediately provide proof of UK residency they said they felt ‘hounded’ after a series of letters and phone calls from the hospital.
Susan Trotter, Charlie’s wife, called Queen Alexandra Hospital last month to check that her husband could receive palliative care if he needed it.
Susan, 73, said: ‘They never listened to me - it feels like they have hounded me.
‘But worse is the damage it’s done to Charlie, it’s really knocked his morale.’
Sam Smith, Charlie’s step-daughter, said: ‘Mum went into meltdown after the first phone call.
‘I told the hospital “you are going to give my mum a heart attack – how much more can a 73-year-old can take?”’
Jo Gooch, finance director at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust said: ‘The trust aims to provide the best possible care and experience to all patients and their families and we apologise for any confusion caused to Mr Trotter and his family in regard to his eligibility for treatment under the NHS as a UK resident.
‘The UK healthcare system is a residence-based one, which means in order to receive free healthcare services, a person must live in the UK.
‘The trust will be reviewing its overseas processes and the approach taken to communicating with patients and their families, to make things as clear as possible.’
Ms Gooch said the ‘residency question’ had been resolved for Mr Trotter, and he is entitled to free access to healthcare in the UK.