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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Hospital discharge revisited

April 02 2010

I read with interest and some alarm about the discharge of Harry Dixon from Guy's and St Thomas's NHS Foundation Trust. ('Still a big problem', The Pavement, March issue)

When I was rough-sleeping in the Westminster area a few years back, I had the misfortune of eating a dodgy chicken meal. The following morning, I woke up with a strong feeling of nausea and a very urgent need to get to a public convenience. Throughout that day I could not wander too far from the public toilets in Covent Garden because I had acute diarrhœa. That evening I was very faint and dizzy, so I went to the A&E department of St Thomas's hospital and was told that I was suffering from dehydration.

I was put onto a drip feed and kept in a curtained cubicle in the A&E department for four hours. I was vomiting violently and constantly going to the toilet (dragging the drip feed with me.) A ward nurse who was concerned about my high temperature summoned a doctor, who commented on how much I was sweating, but no further action was taken.

A few minutes after midnight, I was told by yet another doctor that I could go. I explained that I was street homeless and needed to be near a toilet because the diarrhœa was still raging, although the vomiting had ceased. The doctor told me that the hospital needed the cubicle for other patients and insisted that I vacate it immediately.

Walking towards the hospital exit and feeling very weak, I realised I needed to use the toilet again. Many of the corridors in the hospital were dark, as the lights had been turned off, and I found a toilet in one of those darkened corridors. After using the toilet and vomiting again, I collapsed to the floor. At about 7.30am, an abrupt cleaner found me and told me to leave, which I did. Although I was feeling very ill, I didn't feel that I had the strength to explain or argue.

No effort was made during my time at the hospital to treat me for the diarrhœa, I felt much worse after my discharge than I had when I went to the hospital a few hours earlier. It took two or three days before I  felt well enough to venture away from the 24-hour toilets in the Covent Garden area.


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Thank you for your letter, and we'll keep an eye on this ongoing story. We are sure this will occur again and again, until it's regulated by something stronger than guidelines.