Letter: Patient's death was not about cash

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your article 'Woman dies after a 12-hour wait for hospital bed' (26 July) has created the unfortunate impression that we do not care for, or about, elderly patients - and that is untrue. Mrs Ruskin was brought to our casualty department by ambulance at 9.25am on 26 February 1993, was immediately assessed by nursing staff, was seen by one of our doctors within one hour, and her case was then transferred to the 'Care of the Elderly' team, which has beds on this hospital site although it is not managed by the trust. All parties involved regret the delay before Mrs Ruskin was admitted to one of these wards.

Unfortunately, your reporter's simplification of my statement 'if we admit that sort of patient, we lose money' specifically feeds into the political debate about trusts putting profits before patients. What I actually said was that the purchasing health authority had not undertaken to contract with this trust for acute geriatric medicine, and consequently we receive no funding with which to provide such a service.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID K. HIRST

Chief Executive

North Middlesex Hospital Trust

London, N18

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