Vera: More questions than answers for Lowestoft family

THE family of an 88-year-old woman patient found injured in the car park at Lowestoft Hospital said this week they had 'more questions than answers' after meeting staff to ask how she went missing from her ward.

Vera Corey's son, Brent, and her daughter, Lorna Todd, said they remained concerned about how their mother – who is unsteady on her feet and usually needs a walking frame – had managed to get outside the building late at night.

But the hospital said its investigation was nearing completion and dismissed a suggestion that she might have fallen over a balcony.

The Journal reported last week how Mrs Corey, of Spashett Road, Lowestoft, went missing from her ward on the evening of St Valentine's Day. She was later found face-down on the concrete car park, having suffered cuts and bruises to her face and arms.

The former school dinner lady was transferred to the James Paget University Hospital for treatment, including stitches to a cut over her eye, but her family is questioning how the incident was allowed to happen at all.

Mrs Corey's son and daughter met the hospital's senior matron and security offficer this week to discuss their concerns and watched what they described as grainy CCTV footage. However, they told The Journal they were left with more questions than answers.

Mrs Todd said that, when her mother was found, she had an awful lot of blood on her and lots of mud on her pyjamas.

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One suggestion – from the ambulance service log of the incident – was that Mrs Corey may have found her way on to a balcony and had fallen over.

'Our feeling is that it really does not add up: more questions are unanswered,' Mr Corey said. 'The ambulance control log has listed this as a fall from [a] balcony, and our big question was whether the balcony door had been left open as it would have been impossible for Mum to open that door herself.'

A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust confirmed that the ambulance control log of the call-out was 'listed as a fall from a balcony', but she added: 'Whether this is accurate or not is another question, as it would have been the judgment of the person who made the call and they can get details wrong sometimes.'

A hospital spokesman told The Journal: 'The evidence gathered thus far does not indicate a fall from the balcony, either in respect of the CCTV footage or the injuries sustained... Our investigation into this incident is ongoing and is nearing completion. We have been in regular contact with the family and a meeting has taken place to review the CCTV footage.

'All relevant CCTV footage and early findings of our internal investigation have been shared with the family as part of the agreed plan.'

Mr Corey said his mother was now being cared for at a nursing home at Kirkley but she had been very poorly this week.

A qualified nurse who works at Lowestoft Hospital contacted The Journal this week. She said nursing staff were under great strain but what happened was 'totally unacceptable'. She hoped 'the hospital managers do not just play lip service to this but initiate a full investigation involving all who were on duty in the hospital in no matter what capacity and come to a sensible decision that improves the ability for us to care for our patients and makes their environment safer'.