Husband cares for wife in hospital

Dan GrimmerA retired nurse has been forced to take care of his sick partner in one of the county's hospitals because he claims staff are too busy to adequately treat her condition.Dan Grimmer

A retired nurse has been forced to take care of his sick partner in one of the county's hospitals because he claims staff are too busy to treat her condition adequately.

Alan Herbert, 61, has been caring for Susan Goodwin at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston for more than a month as she suffers from a degenerative lung condition which needs round-the-clock, specific care.

He stepped in to care for her after she had been in hospital for several months - and was allowed by hospital staff - because he believed she was not getting the specialist care she needed as the hospital was so busy.

He said he felt his 49-year-old partner was "better off" being looked after by him.

Hospital bosses admitted they were "very busy" at the moment and for the past nine out of 14 days the hospital had been on its highest alert status of black which means it is under incredible pressure.

Mr Herbert said: "The staff are so busy at that hospital it is unbelievable. I am not knocking them because most of them do a great job but I am concerned patients' lives are being put at risk because there is just not enough staff or money in the NHS at the moment.

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"I have witnessed patients not getting the drugs they need on time, elderly people being left so they fall out of bed and staff being rushed off their feet to the point that patients could be abandoned.

"As a qualified nurse I felt helpless standing by so I have offered my services. Susan's needs are very complex and I don't feel as though anyone else can look after her adequately."

Miss Goodwin was first admitted to the JPUH in May this year with lung problems and also she had fractured her spine. Miss Goodwin suffers from a range of conditions, including aspergillus, an uncommon terminal condition in which fungus attacks air passages and prevents the sufferer from breathing properly.

She spends a lot of the day on oxygen and has limited movement, often resulting in severe pain when she does move. Mr Herbert became Miss Goodwin's full-time carer after giving up his job as a senior nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. However, he has opted to come out of his retirement to provide hospital help for his partner, as well as being her full-time carer.

The couple have four children and three grandchildren between them.

Nick Coveney, director of nursing and patient services at the JPUH, said that due to patient confiden-tiality the individual case of Miss Goodwin could not be discussed but he said: "We are always sorry to hear that any patient or relative has concerns about the treatment they have received at James Paget Hospital. Our experienced staff do everything they can to address any issues which are raised while the patient is in our care.

"Should their concerns remain, we have mechanisms in place to allow further investigation and, wherever appropriate, will take action as a result."

A spokesman added that the situation was now easing at the hospital and it had not been on black alert since Monday. He said: "Winter is always a busy period for the NHS and this year is no exception."