Woman dies after 12-hour wait for hospital bed

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

AN MP is calling for an inquiry into the death of an 89-year-old woman who died after being left on a hospital trolley for 12 hours.

Winnie Ruskin's relatives claim she was a victim of a dispute between an NHS Trust and a unit still directly managed by the health service.

Mrs Ruskin was admitted to the accident and emergency department of the North Middlesex Hospital in Edmonton, north London, after she was found collapsed at her home.

The casualty department decided she ought to be admitted to a geriatric unit which is on the same site, but not part of the trust.

She was left for hours on the trolley before getting a bed.

The hospital refused to admit Mrs Ruskin to any of its wards because it does not have a contract with its main purchaser, New River Health Authority, to provide care or beds for the elderly.

Bernie Grant, the MP for Tottenham, has taken up the case with the Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, and is calling for an inquiry.

The North Middlesex hospital Trust says it does not know why Mrs Ruskin was left on the trolley for so long. Dr David Hirst, the chief executive, said the trust was unable to admit patients who had been chosen to go to the elderly unit. 'It is not in our charter and the health authority purchasing from us don't have a contract with us for that type of care. If we admit that sort of patient we lose money.'