Nottingham: Hospital inquiry after dementia patient walks out

  • By Rebecca Sherdley
  • BBC News

Image caption,

Marion Smith with granddaughter Matilda in 2019

An investigation has been launched after a patient with dementia left hospital in her slippers and walked for five miles.

Marion Smith, 74, sparked a police response on Tuesday when she disappeared from a ward at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

Her daughter was due to collect her after she was given the all-clear following a suspected stroke.

But Anna Cotton got a call to say her mum had gone missing.

Mrs Smith is understood to have left a ward via an unlocked door at the Derby Road site. She was not found for another five hours.

She was found by police unharmed after reaching Woodthorpe Grange Park, some five miles away.

The hospital trust has since apologised to her family, but Mrs Cotton, 45, said she felt “let down”.

She said: “I don’t envy the ward manager, who phoned me up to tell me, ‘We have lost your mum’.”

Image source, Anna Cotton

Image caption,

Anna Cotton with her daughter Matilda

Mrs Cotton said she was not blaming individuals but was disappointed in the hospital.

She said her mother got out through an unlocked door to a corridor, where cleanings products were stored, and left via a car park at the rear.

“It’s not an entrance for members of the public,” added Mrs Cotton.

Mrs Smith has frontotemporal dementia, a group of brain disorders caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain.

‘Shut the door quick’

Mrs Cotton said her mother was a teacher before she became a fitness instructor and was physically fit. But due to her condition, she forgets to eat, how to cook – and can no longer read.

She had been admitted to hospital overnight with a suspected stroke.

Image caption,

Police found the 74-year-old after she walked out of the Queen’s Medical Centre, Derby Road, Nottingham

When Mrs Cotton arrived at her mother’s ward at the QMC, she said: “Someone bobbed their head through and said, ‘You can come through here, but you better shut the door quick… we’ve already had an escape today’.”

Mrs Cotton was contacted by the hospital 30 minutes after her mother disappeared. Police were informed and a description was circulated as the search to find her began.

“I don’t think she knew where she was going to,” said Mrs Cotton.

“She was fairly near my house. I think it is just chance she ended up half a mile from mine.

“She isn’t one to go off exploring.”

A statement from Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust, which runs the QMC, said: “We are aware of the incident and it is being thoroughly investigated.

“Although we cannot comment on individual cases, patient safety is one of our top priorities and we do all we can to ensure that patients on our wards are as safe as possible whilst in our care.”


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