Belfast Telegraph

Ex-soldier's frustration as his new prosthetic hand goes missing in the post

BY VICTORIA O'HARA

A former soldier who lost his arm in a hit-and-run incident has spoken of his frustration at having to wait at least six weeks for a new prosthetic hand after a replacement went missing during delivery.

Rob Maxwell, an ex-Royal Irish Ranger who retired in 1993, was "left for dead" after the motorbike he was riding was struck by a car 10 years ago.

The injury to his right arm was so severe that it had to be removed from above the elbow.

He now has a prosthetic limb in its place, but the hand needed to be replaced at the end of August.

Rob (47) believes it was sent to an old address, leading to what he described as a "mix-up and breakdown of communication", and the replacement disappeared.

A spokeswoman for the Belfast Trust said while it cannot comment on individual cases, it was willing to talk to Mr Maxwell about any concerns he has.

It is understood the Belfast Trust did attempt to contact him, but without success.

Mr Maxwell is now struggling to cope day-to-day with a broken prosthetic limb.

He said he was unable to even tie his shoe laces properly.

He faces a further six-week wait until a new hand is made.

"I'm not blaming the hospital, but I think it is just the whole system," he said.

"I had moved and they probably did try to contact me, but having to struggle with a hand that doesn't work is just so frustrating."

He said day-to-day life was hard.

"It (the hand) is devoid of any function at all. I was out with my children and the hand fell off. I had to pick it up and click it back into place. The hand doesn't work," he said.

"You can't even tie up your laces tightly. Even going to the bathroom is difficult.

"We should be allowed to have more dignity."

Mr Maxwell from Downpatrick, Co Down, had turned his personal tragedy into an opportunity to raise funds to help wounded soldiers.

He said the months following the hit-and-run were a very difficult time as he struggled to adapt to his change in circumstances. He joined BLESMA (British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association) after being treated at Musgrave Park Hospital and spearheaded fundraising schemes in aid of the wounded.

He also launched new snowboarding and skiing scholarships for injured colleagues.

Mr Maxwell said the frustration he feels is shared among other injured veterans.

"There are some nights I lie in bed and I think to myself sometimes daily life is such a struggle – you have to think outside the box to try and do something the next day after getting through that one."

He added: "I just feel the veterans in Northern Ireland are being forgotten about. It is hugely depressing."

He believes more should be done through the Veterans' Charter to care for soldiers who have been injured and can no longer actively serve.

"Compared to how injured ex-soldiers are treated in other parts of the UK and America, we are let down – politicians have let us down," he said.

The spokeswoman for the trust said: "We are unable to discuss an individual patient, however we would be happy to meet with Mr Maxwell.

"If he would like to contact the hospital directly we would be pleased to discuss any issues he may have."

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