A faulty emergency cord in a Northampton General Hospital toilet left a great grandmother shocked and distressed when she was locked in there for more than an hour.
Former home helper Annie Stanley was admitted to hospital after fracturing her pelvis in a fall at her Hardingstone home earlier this month.
The 87-year-old widow was kept on the Hawthorn Ward during her stay and said she was largely happy with her care and the nursing staff.
But on Wednesday, April 16, a health assistant took her to a toilet and locked the great-grandmother of 23 in. However, when Mrs Stanley called to say she was ready to come out, no-one answered.
She tried to pull on an emergency cord but it was broken.
In the end Mrs Stanley, in immense pain, had to crawl to the toilet door.
She said: “I was just waiting and waiting, pulling on the cord.
“I thought ‘this can’t be working’. I got to the door and managed to unlock it, don’t ask me how I did it. Then I shouted down the corridor, but no-one could hear me.
“I thought I would never get out. I thought nobody was coming for me.”
Mrs Stanley’s family are furious their mother could have been left for so long and want to know why the member of staff concerned did not check on their mother.
They are also demanding the hospital now checks its emergency cords on a daily basis as opposed to its current monthly inspections to avoid a repeat of Mrs Stanley’s ordeal.
Daughter Julia Stanley, 67, said the consequences of her mother being locked in a room for an hour and 20 minutes could have been much worse as her mother is claustrophobic and has a weak heart.
Now Annie Stanley is back at her home , where her recovery from the fractured pelvis is likely to take several months. The 87-year-old is having to take a cocktail of strong painkillers and is still shaken from her ordeal.
Julia Stanley said: “She lives alone, but this has really knocked her confidence.”
Staff only began to search for Mrs Stanley when her daughter Julia began to worry where she was.
At first it was believed the 87-year-old was in the physiotherapy ward.
Mrs Stanley’s family said they believed the problem was caused because health assistants on the Hawthorn Ward were moved elsewhere in the hospital at about 2pm while their mother was still in the toilet.
Northampton General Hospital said it is now investigating how this could have happened.
A spokesman said: “We are very sorry to hear this report about Mrs Stanley’s care and apologise for the distress this must have caused her.
“We will be carrying out a full investigation into the incident to ensure something like this does not happen again.”