Alzheimer's patient left locked overnight on bus

A minibus driver has been suspended after an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer's was left locked in his vehicle overnight, leading a council chief to admit something had gone "seriously wrong" within its care service.

The unnamed woman, who is in her 80s, was picked up from the Hockwell Ring Day Centre in Luton on Monday afternoon and should have been taken home to her flat at the Jill Jenkins Court extra care home.

Instead, she was found by a driver at 7am on Tuesday morning locked inside the Luton Borough Council minibus in the city's Kingsway depot. She was returned home shortly after being found and is not thought to have been injured.

The council said in a statement that it has launched an internal investigation into the incident and the driver of the minibus has been "suspended without prejudice". Every passenger transport vehicle will also be checked before the end of each day until further notice.

Trevor Holden, council chief executive, said: "Senior officers from the council met with our client's family as soon as possible on Tuesday to make sure everything is being done for her continued welfare and to express how very, very sorry we are that this appalling incident took place.

"We are deeply shocked that something has gone so seriously wrong and we will do everything we can to find out exactly what took place and ensure it cannot happen again."

Bedfordshire Police will complete its initial investigation before each organisation will proceed further with its own internal investigations relating to the woman's care.