Election `97: Invalid father faces eviction from hospital

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Tom McCaffery, 88, is facing eviction from his hospital bed. He suffers from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases but doctors say he is taking up a much-needed bed on an acute ward when he should be in a nursing home.

His son, Peter, 56, who has power of attorney, is insisting his father remains where he is on the grounds that the National Health Service should provide care from cradle to grave.

Tom McCaffery was admitted to the Royal Preston Hospital in February 1996 and transferred after treatment to the Sharoe Green hospital, Preston, for rehabilitation.

Five months later a hospital team, including consultants, nurses and a social worker, agreed that he should be discharged. Since then his son has been charged pounds 240 a day for the bed and the bill now stands at more than pounds 47,000.

He said: "My father has conditions that can only be properly treated in hospital. We looked at nursing homes ... but they didn't have the facilities the hospital has and obviously I want the best for my father. He is a sick man.

``He cannot wash himself, he cannot walk and he needs help to eat and drink."

A spokeswoman for Preston Acute Hospital's NHS Trust said Mr McCaffery, who is unaware of the controversy, might be taken to a home for the elderly mentally ill for which he could be made to pay.

"Our view is that an acute hospital is not the right environment for him," she said.

Under NHS rules, a person with more than pounds 16,000 capital has to pay the cost of nursing- home care. Mr McCaffery, who owns a bungalow, would clearly fall into that category, the spokeswoman said.