On 19 April 2020, 94-year old, Ian Malcolm reported from Ward 2 in Ninewells Hospital
The nonagenarian happened to be a patient in Ninewells Hospital at the height of the pandemic after been admitted to hospital with chronic leg pain after calling an ambulance.
Hospital policy at the time, of course, was that he was not permitted visitors and, being extremely deaf, Ian wasn’t even able to hold two-way conversations with his family on his mobile phone. He was only able to pass on one-way communication by calling numbers which were stored on this mobile phone.
MOVE TO ST ANDREWS COMMUNITY HOSPITAL
After about a 10 day day stay in Ninewells, after Ian’s leg pain stabilised, he was moved across the water to St Andrews Community Hospital which is managed by NHS Fife. However, it turned out to be worse than Ninewells and his patience ran out within a few days of staying at this facility – to such an extent that the first thing he said (in a loud voice) on leaving the ward was,
“Some of them don’t deserve to be called nurses”
such was his anger at how he had been treated.
ZERO COMMUNICATION WITH FAMILY
After the battery on his mobile phone ran out, 94-year-old Ian couldn’t even communicate one-way messages with his family. He came to the sad realisation himself that, unless someone came to rescue him, he would likely die a miserable, lonely death inside St Andrews Community Hospital.
Doctors and occupational therapists had already warned him, and family members over the phone, that it could take several months (maybe over 6 months) to even have an assessment carried out by a Social Worker; a year was even mooted as a possibility.
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE ASSESSMENTS SUSPENDED
Health and social care assessments had been indefinitely suspended when the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 was passed absolving local councils of responsibility of caring for people in their own homes. Ian was not even a complex case. A physiotherapist in Ninewells Hospital felt he required three visits a day from a Community Care team but, with family help, all Ian really immediately needed was for a stair-lift to be fitted so he wouldn’t have to crawl upstairs to bed.
One occupational therapist told Ian’s daughter she’d had elderly patients stay so long in hospital waiting for help to be arranged at home that eventually they gave up waiting and begged to go home – to nothing in place! If the intention was to create a false demand for hospital beds this was certainly one way of doing it – simply stop Social Workers, or anyone else, doing assessments and therefore stop patients, who no longer require specialist hospital care, from moving on.
After only a couple of days in St Andrews Community Hospital just shy of his 95th birthday Ian managed to struggle using a zimmer to use the ward’s landline phone to communicate an urgent message to this daughter. This time the message was short and to the point. It was a distress call which consisted of only five words. Ian’s words were:
“Get me out of here!”
NO HELP FOR THE DEAF
During his short stay at the St Andrews Community Hospital, Ian’s family attempted to hand in writing paper, along with stamped address envelopes, so Ian could communicate with his children by letter. However, the front-desk receptionist refused to take the package stating emphatically,
“Hospital policy is nothing in and out of the wards.”
DIFFERENT POLICIES IN NHS TAYSIDE AND NHS FIFE
In Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Ian’s daughter had been allowed to hand in a bag of books, puzzles and boiled sweets to help relieve her father’s boredom, however, at St Andrews Community Hospital a harsher policy was in place.
NHS Fife policy to not allow anything to be handed in (on top of not allowing visitors) would undoubtedly have a detrimentally affect on patients’ mental health and wellbeing – especially if they were deaf. The hospital personnel at St Andrews provided no solution as to how Ian could communicate with his family during what key hospital staff were predicting would be a very long stay.
When it came to rescuing Ian from St Andrews high security Community Hospital however, rules about what (and who) was permitted to go in and out of the building wasn’t quite so tight as Ian’s daughter was allowed to steer a wheelchair through the entire hospital in order to collect him from the ward door where he had been held prisoner.
While walking through the community hospital, his daughter testifies there was no commotion anywhere and that every corridor was eerily quiet. On the ground floor three GP practices, which normally had dozens of people in the waiting area, were deserted.
The doctor over-seeing Ian’s care made it very clear that if he left the building the NHS would wash their hands of him and he would even be removed from the list awaiting assessment. Ian was still determined to leave hospital to return home where he could at least watch Ealing Comedies on his computer, email his family and friends and smoke his pipe.
After he was rescued, the family set about trying to find private stair lift companies within Scotland. They quickly found a company in Inverkeithing which rented out stair lifts at affordable prices on a monthly basis. Photos of the staircase and measurements of the stairs were taken by his family (because the stair company was not permitted to do this). 10 days later a simple stair lift was installed so Ian could scoot up the stairs and he no longer had to crawl on his hands and knees.
If you analyse the policies introduced during the “pandemic” they all point to a deliberate deception that hospitals couldn’t cope with excessive demand – that they were packed full of patients suffering from a new disease which had traveled all the way from Wuhan in China (something to do with a bat).
In reality hospital beds were moved 6ft 6in apart (to create less occupancy) and patients, who no longer needed to be there, were given no help to leave.
Ian M. Malcolm (now deceased) wrote the Social History book Dundee Memories which was first serialised in The Courier. He died 3 days shy of his 97th birthday. This is his obituary in The Courier. Ian described his wartime experiences in his book, Life Aboard a Wartime Liberty Ship and he always made it clear that he was forced to go to war (by conscription), he was not given a choice.