Man, 26, left without food for FOUR days with agonising broken leg due to NHS blunders
16:22 GMT, 27 April 2012
A furious father has revealed his son was left without food for four days while waiting for treatment for a broken leg.
Mechanic James MacLeod, 24, from Stornoway, on the Western Isles, needed urgent surgery after a horrific injury at work saw him break both his tibia and fibula when he fell off a ramp on April 17.
But he was left waiting six days for surgery and four days without food after a shocking series of errors, including several delays to air ambulance transfers.
James MacLeod was bumped off a flight because his case was not viewed as an emergency
James was first seen by an orthopaedic consultant at Stornoway’s Western Isles Hospital but – because the hospital had no steel pins – he had to be flown to Inverness’s Raigmore Hospital on the mainland.
After a 'complete breakdown in communications' between the Scottish Ambulance Service and hospitals in Aberdeen, Inverness and Stornoway, James endured two hellish plane journeys and wasn’t operated on until April 22.
James’ father Murdo MacLeod – who is now planning to submit a formal complaint to the authorities – said: 'There was clearly a complete breakdown in communications. There was a lack of communication between the hospitals.
'There was a lack of communication with the air ambulance. There was just a complete lack of a co-ordinated approach.'
Initially told not to eat as he’d be flying out to be operated on April 18, James’ flight was first delayed until the following day when a bed became available at Raigmore Hospital.
Plans were put in place for James’ father to accompany him on the flight which they shared with a patient suffering severe lung problems.
Mr MacLeord said: 'I was told to prepare for the flight going away at 10 o’clock. But there was a wee bit of a delay as James was told orthopaedic patients were not a priority.
'There was another patient with severe respiratory problems and they were desperate to get him away, so James was able to be the second patient on that flight.'
Disaster struck, however, when the air ambulance prepared to land at Inverness and warning systems indicated that the plane’s landing gear hadn’t properly engaged.
Weather conditions meant visibility was poor so the control tower couldn’t advise the pilot whether the undercarriage had locked or not.
Not happy to land, the pilot flew over 100 miles to Aberdeen hoping for better conditions.
Despite visibility being no better in Aberdeen and the aircraft’s warning system still indicating a landing gear problem, the pilot was left with no alternative but to risk a decent.
Once on the tarmac at Aberdeen, one ambulance showed up to transport the other patient travelling with James to hospital.
But James was left sitting freezing on the tarmac in agony for over two hours waiting for another air ambulance which would be sent from Glasgow 'within 45 minutes' to take him back over 100 miles to Inverness.
Mr MacLeod was supposed to be taken straight to Raigmore Hospital (pictured) but experienced first a delayed flight and then a diverted journey
Mr MacLeod added: 'We landed in Aberdeen in emergency conditions and we were left there for two hours and 20 minutes sitting on the tarmac in a wide open plane with a north-easterly wind blowing through and two very sick patients on board – one very ill and one very sore.
'The other patient was very, very ill and was gasping for breath. To a layman, he seemed to be knocking on death’s door.
'James was very sick as he was on morphine. They couldn’t even give him a bed-bottle to relieve himself.
'My priority at the time was for the two patients to get proper medical treatment and it was only afterwards that I got angry – extremely angry.'
When James finally got to hospital in Inverness – six hours after leaving Stornoway – his leg was so swollen because of the series of delays that medics couldn’t operate on it for another three days.
Having lost a significant amount of weight and suffered psychological issues since the trauma, James is now recovering at home in Stornoway as his father plans to take action against the authorities who failed his son.
A spokeswoman for NHS Western Isles said: 'There was a planned transfer on clinical grounds.
'Thereafter there were flight scheduling and technical difficulties with the Scottish Ambulance Service aircraft, which resulted in the plane being re-routed to Aberdeen.'
A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: 'Unfortunately, the aircraft experienced an instrument problem and, as a result, diverted to Aberdeen.
'Clearly, this resulted in the patient’s journey taking longer than it should have and we are sorry for any discomfort that they experienced.
'We would be happy to discuss the matter in detail with the patients involved.'