An obese cancer patient has lodged a complaint against an ambulance crew who dropped him because he was too heavy and left him lying ‘like a beached whale’.
Overweight Robert Wiley, 62, suffers from numerous health problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bladder cancer.
Former driver Robert weighs 23-stone and, when not bed-ridden, needs help to get around.
A private ambulance crew arrived to take him from his home to a hospital appointment and put him in a specially big wheelchair.
But as they carried him down the two small steps outside his bungalow when he tipped backwards and was ‘suddenly on the floor’.
Robert has lodged a formal complaint with E-zec Medical Transport Services – an NHS contractor.
He says he “hasn’t slept” for the last two days due to the pain from the fall – and is now living in fear of it happening again.
Robert said: “I remember going over the first threshold sitting up nicely, and the next thing I’m feeling myself dropping back and I’m suddenly on the floor.
“The pain from the fall didn’t start for about an hour after, but why didn’t they think to get me through casualty for a check up?
“They apologised at the time. But if my son hadn’t been there to help me back onto the wheelchair, I would still be down there on the floor like a beached whale.”
An E-zec Medical Transport spokesman said the family-run company was “investigating the incident”.
Robert, who worked as a van and coach driver before retiring due to health problems, was diagnosed with bladder cancer last month.
He is regularly transported via ambulance to hospital for various appointments at least once a week.
Robert said: “They brought in a wheelchair for obese people, got me on and strapped me to it.
“After I was dropped not one of them asked questions about how I was; they just carried on as usual and got me in the ambulance.
“It never should have happened in the first place, but I’m worried it could happen again.
“I’ve only recently been diagnosed with cancer, and now I have these further injuries to worry about. It’s just all happening at once.”
On the day of the incident E-zec said they were using a third party provider, Lifeline, due to high demand for its service.
Robert said he was due to go in for surgery for his bladder cancer the following day, but has been told he is too overweight for the operation to go ahead.
He says while he is waiting to hear back from the hospital he is focusing on resting and recovering from the fall at his home in Saltash, Cornwall.
He added: “I want E-Zec to investigate properly and to make sure it is safer in the future.
“I don’t want other patients to get hurt. It doesn’t put trust in me to trust the service..
“I am not faulting South Western Ambulance Service whatsoever, it is nothing to do with them. Every time they’ve dealt with me they have been perfect.”
E-zec said: “We were using a third party provider on that day, as we bring in other private ambulance companies from time to time if the demand is a little bit higher.
“However, as we approved this third party provider as the contractor, we are investigating the incident.
“We are just waiting for further information, including the incident reports.”