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Belfast pensioner received sub-standard care after change of ward, court told


Belfast High Court.

Belfast High Court.

Belfast High Court.

A Belfast pensioner who suffered a severe brain injury allegedly received sub-standard medical care after being moved to a ward for dementia and stroke patients, the High Court heard today.

Counsel for the 69-year-old woman's family claimed decisions made over her treatment at Antrim Area Hospital breached her human rights

A judge was also told her lung was punctured during one procedure to insert a feeding tube.

With the woman now moved to another part of the hospital, Mrs Justice Keegan imposed an interim prohibition on any return to the disputed ward.

She said: "The lady is not to be moved in the meantime unless with consent of the family or by order of the court."

Granted anonymity, the woman at the centre of the case has had low-level consciousness since sustaining her brain injury.

Last month she was transferred from a neurology unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast to Antrim Area Hospital, with her family allegedly given one hour's notice.

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The woman's daughter has now launched judicial review proceedings against both the Belfast and Nothern Health and Social Care Trusts.

Her barrister, Malachy McGowan, argued no proper explanation was given for moving the woman to a stroke and dementia ward.

"It's not an appropriate ward for treating an individual who has suffered an acute brain injury," he told the court.

"The family are also concerned generally about the standard of care and treatment on that ward."

During the emergency hearing it was confirmed that the woman has developed an infection and been taken to another part of the hospital.

Her lawyers contend it would be unlawful and irrational to move her back.

They are further seeking a direction that the woman's care and rehabilitation should be at one of Northern Ireland's special units for acquired brain injuries.

Counsel for the respondents insisted the disputed ward was for elderly care rather than dementia patients.

He told the court a rupture to the wall of the woman's lung has been resolved, adding that she is being assessed in a respiratory unit.

Based on medical advice, the barrister argued that the ward for elderly care is the most suitable for her.

However, the judge held that the woman should not be taken back there while proceedings are underway.

"I'm going to go with the family's wishes and feelings in this as a holding matter," she said.

The challenge was listed for a full hearing later this month.

Outside court the family's solicitor, Claire McKeegan of KRW Law, expressed relief at the interim order.

She said: "No family should have to go to court to ensure that their mother obtains the care that she deserves.

"It is hoped that this sensitive matter will be resolved as soon as possible."

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