A very frail 83-year-old woman from Market Harborough was left waiting for an ambulance for 11 hours after being discharged from Leicester Royal Infirmary.
In the end, her 85-year-old husband collected her himself with friends - with still no ambulance in sight.
Now the woman - Dorothy Blackbourn - is recovering in a town nursing home, after the all-day wait triggered a very painful back and she reacted badly to the morphine prescribed for the back pain.
Her worried husband John Blackbourn told the Mail: “The hospital was anxious to discharge her, to clear a bed and tick a box, and didn’t have either the right medicine ready, or an ambulance booked.”
Mrs Blackbourn had suffered a heart attack, but also has rheumatoid arthritis in hands and feet, diabetes and a septic foot which is in plaster. She can not walk unaided.
Mr Blackbourn said: “In the end, we went to pick her up ourselves or the hospital would have readmitted her, and the whole process would have had to start again.
“My wife is very frail and suffered unnecessarily for 11 hours. I feel very upset about this. And I’m sure this isn’t an isolated case. The NHS medical staff are good, but the NHS is in a mess.”
The Blackbourns have been married for 61 years, and live off Northampton Road. Mr Blackbourn has an MBE, for services to the prison service.
Harborough district councillor and health campaigner Phil Knowles was contacted by Mr Blackbourne and spoke to both the hospital discharge unit and the ambulance provider Arriva to try to help
He said: “There are many questions that need to be asked. Why is it taking hours to secure an ambulance to take discharged patients home and are the authorities actually operating a policy of readmitting patients after 8pm if no ambulance has arrived?
“If it’s a regular occurrence then it could be contributing to difficulty of bed availability.”
Cllr Knowles said he would be seeking meetings with key executives at both Leicester Royal and the hospital transport provider.
A spokesman for Arriva has apologised to the Blackbournes and promised an investigation.