The man who spent two years in the hospital wasn’t lazy, he was disabled and discriminated against

Adriano Guedes denied he was offered suitable accommodation for two years while in hospital paralysed after a stroke. That’s not unusual. Disabled people’s housing needs are routinely overlooked, leaving them with nowhere to go

James Moore
Thursday 26 January 2017 14:34
Comments
So-called ‘bed blocking’ – where people occupy NHS beds because there is nowhere else for them – has become commonplace
So-called ‘bed blocking’ – where people occupy NHS beds because there is nowhere else for them – has become commonplace

A man spends two years in a hospital rejecting all other options offered to him before having to be evicted by the courts from his bed – that’s satire from The Onion, right? Surely?

That was my initial reaction to the story of Adriano Guedes and his lengthy spell as a resident at the James Paget Hospital in Norfolk. I was once an outpatient there and counted an escape within two hours as a result (although that’s true of any hospital).

Guedes, a 63-year-old stroke victim, told the BBC that he had tried to vacate his bed, only to be forced to stay because the accommodation he was offered wasn’t appropriate to his condition and the disabilities it caused, and he had nowhere else to go.

Anna Hills, director of governance at the hospital, popped up in an attempt to draw a line under the conversation, saying that “as a compassionate organisation, the James Paget worked throughout in partnership with a range of agencies to achieve a safe discharge from the hospital. These included the local authority and social care and, as far as possible, Guedes, his family and friends. Detailed planning took place which led to a successful discharge in this complex case.”

Corbyn: Theresa May is in denial over the NHS crisis

So that’s fine, then. Move along, nothing to see here, it’s a case of “he said, she said” that’s now been resolved (with a bit of help from the courts). Britain, eh. Bonkers! Now where have they put the crossword?

I don’t know the full facts about how Guedes came to spend two years in a bed, but I have come across similar situations. I’ve seen cases where a person with disabilities or with special needs has been left in a Kafkaesque nightmare over the issue of finding a place to live, being offered so-called “suitable” accommodation which is actually anything but.

When a council or housing association wants to knock a building down so it can be redeveloped, all those living in it have to be rehoused. If one of the residents is disabled, housing officials may offer them a new home without considering whether there’s space to turn a wheelchair around in the hall, or railings installed to get into the bath.

They might eventually find somewhere that seems appropriate, but an occupational therapist could initially disagree and by the time they decide it’s suitable, the place will have been snatched up by someone else.

Meanwhile the agency responsible for the building starts to exert pressure: it wants everybody out. Suddenly it starts to get nasty. Threatening letters are dispatched because the resident allegedly has been offered “suitable accommodation”.

The people handling the search for a new home for the resident might stop answering the phone, and letters, threats and more letters fly back and forth and as the situation rapidly deteriorates.

Did something like this happen in the case of Guedes and the James Paget Hospital?

According to a piece published by The Times on the same day Guedes talked to the BBC, thousands of chronically ill patients could be forced out of their homes because in some areas the health service will no longer pay for carers to visit them if it would be cheaper to secure them a place in a care home.

Thousands of people may be forced into living in places that might be unsuitable, shuffled off into a grim warehouse operated by a for-profit company determined to keep costs down even if that means running a place that might make a prison camp seem preferable.

We can’t be sure whether this happened in Guedes’s case. What we do know is that a wide range of organisations have been highlighting a funding crisis in the health service, exacerbated by an even bigger crisis in social care, which has been ignored by the Government to the extent that it has reached a tipping point.

While Guedes’s case is extreme, so-called “bed blocking” – where people occupy NHS beds because there is nowhere else for them – has become commonplace.

We also know that is that there is a chronic lack of social housing in this country, something else a wide number of organisations have been highlighting. The Government has repeatedly failed to hit its own targets for building, and has compounded the situation through a mad policy of subsidising the sale of council and housing association homes to people lucky enough to be able to afford mortgages.

That shortage is exacerbated when it comes to people with specific requirements that make lots of places unsuitable for them to live in.

When you take these issues into consideration, Guedes's story doesn't seem to be quite as crazy as it did at first.

There are certainly questions that the James Paget hospital and its bosses ought to answer, but I’d be inclined to concentrate my fire on the ministers and civil servants who bear a deeper responsibility for allowing the problems that might very well lead to many other stories like this one.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in