'Victim was moved for Prince's visit'

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The Independent Online
A visit by the Prince of Wales to a woman who was seriously injured in the Docklands bomb blast became the subject of controversy yesterday, after it emerged she had been moved from St Bartholomew's Hospital to the Royal London Hospital for the visit.

Medical staff at Bart's, which is due to close in five years' time, were outraged to discover that Barbara Osei, who was recovering from a major three-hour operation to save her sight, had been moved to the Royal London for the Prince's visit.

A source said that against doctors' wishes, she was moved from her bed yesterday at 8am. "The only other bomb blast patient at the Royal London is a Turkish man who is in a very serious condition and can't talk. But they wanted a success story," said a source within Barts.

"She was in bed recovering from three hours of surgery. No doctor in Barts gave permission. The whole hospital is talking about it."

Following claims from within the hospital that Ms Osei had become a political pawn, a brief statement appeared yesterday evening in which she and senior hospital managers denied that she had been brought back to the Royal London for publicity reasons. In a brief interview, Ms Osei said she had asked to be moved to the Royal London after hearing about the royal visit. "It was a privilege to meet him. I have seen him on TV and in magazines but I have never had him sitting near to me. He was a very nice person," Ms Osei said.

A maxillo-facial surgeon, Iain Hutchison, said the patient had been moved for further treatment, adding that she was almost ready to be discharged. "The second reason was because she expressed a wish to meet to the Prince of Wales," he said.

But the hospital's own press officer had earlier made a contradictory statement, saying that Miss Osei had been moved as a result of her rapid convalescence and in order to "free up a bed".

A spokeswoman for the Royal Hospital Trust said: "She was moved simply because her general condition had improved and she could be put back onto another ward."

The spokeswoman said that Ms Osei would now remain at the Royal London. But after hearing that Barts' Redcliffe ward was expecting Ms Osei to return this morning, she said instead that Ms Osei was receiving "joint care" between both hospitals.

"She's received ophthalmic surgery at Barts and is undergoing maxillo- facial surgery at the Royal London. Her time is being split between the two hospitals," she said.

When asked later to explain why so many reasons had been given by the hospital trust for Ms Osei's movements, a spokeswoman said: "Well we're all one hospital now really, even though we've got two different sites. So patients do quite often get moved between the two sites for different operations."

Shortly afterwards, a nurse at Redcliffe Ward, from which Ms Osei was moved, said that staff had received specific instructions not to talk to the media about Ms Osei's case.

tDocklands bomb victim Inan Bashir was buried yesterday. Mr Bashir, 29, was killed with his assistant, John Jefferies, 31, when their newspaper kiosk outside South Quay station was devastated.

A bachelor from Streatham, south-west London, he was buried near his home following a private family Islamic service at the Croydon Mosque, south London. Two Anti-Terrorist Squad officers paid their respects, along with the family.