AN investigation has been launched after a pensioner was left to walk four miles home in the middle of the night in just her night clothes and slippers.
Barbara Hazzard, 74, had to be rescued by police and taken the rest of the way home after she was spotted by a taxi driver.
She left St John’s hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, shortly before 3am on Saturday morning.
She had been rushed to the hospital the previous night after suffering severe pains to her heart.
After four hours, the grandmother from Blackburn,West Lothian was given the all clear to head home but claims NHS Lothian staff said they couldn’t pay for transport.
The OAP left her purse at home after leaving in a panic and and was left walk an hour and 30 minute journey to her home in Blackburn, West Lothian.
NHS Lothian has confirmed an inquiry is now underway.
Divorced Barbara, who suffers from arthritis in her feet, added: “I had come out of A & E, the doctors had seen me and said I was okay to go home as I had an appointment with a cardiologist the next day who would take more tests.
“I was told to go home and rest. By this point I was just so tired I wanted home to my bed. It was 3o’clock in the morning when I walked through.
“I was stood in my nightie and A & E was completely empty, not one person was waiting to be seen. I asked if I could get transport back home to Blackburn and she just looked at me and said ‘no’ and pointed over to the free taxi phone.
“I wasn’t objecting to paying for one, I just physically didn’t have any money on me. I didn’t have a phone or even an address book with numbers in it.
“I was sitting there in my nightie, my dressing gown and my slippers with only my medical bag for company. That’s all I took to the hospital. No handbag, no money.
“The staff kept saying I must have family I can call. I said my daughter was an in-patient herself and my grandson stays in Kinross. They replied ‘we can’t do anything’.
“She said I could just sit on the seats and wait for a bus to come in the morning but I would’ve been waiting six hours for a bus. Then they said ‘they wouldn’t let you on the bus anyway in your night attire’.
The granny-of-six, who is the secretary of the Women’s Social Service Club in Blackburn, was luckily pulled over by police who spotted her and made sure she got home safe.
“They thought I’d escaped from a nursing home but they couldn’t believe it when I told them where I had come from,” she said, “I had walked to the bottom of the road and turned left. I was walking for 20 minutes when I got pulled over by police in one of those meat wagons.
“I said I had just been discharged from A & E and just wanted to go home and get to my bed so they strapped me in, drove me back and waited until I was inside and my lights were turned on before they drove away. It was 4am by this point.
“I had in my mind that I would walk the route of the number 21 bus. I thought if I got to the main road I’d wave down a car and ask someone to give me a lift home. When I think about it now I could have been murdered.
“I’ve been in and out of hospital for the past seven years and had double bypass surgery and the treatment and staff have always been fantastic.
“I’m all alone, I’ve got friends but I don’t have wings to just fly over to them and I would have to flick through my address book at home to call them.
“If the staff had looked up my details, they’d have seen that I came in an ambulance. The doctor said ‘you’re not having a heart attack now, but that’s not saying you didn’t have one earlier.’
“The complaints department will be able to look at the CCTV and see what happened.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We received a call from a taxi driver telling us that an elderly woman was wandering around in her night clothes.
“We dispatched two officers who picked the woman up and made sure she got home safely.”
Lothian MSP Neil Findlay said: “This is almost beyond belief. I understand the pressures facing our NHS but discharging a 74-year-old woman with heart problems who was wearing nothing but her night clothes in the middle of the night is completely unacceptable.
“There should be an immediate inquiry into what went wrong so that this can never happen again.”
Jim Crombie, acting chief executive of NHS Lothian, said: “This was a distressing and upsetting episode for Mrs Hazzard and I would like to apologise to her that she had this experience following care in one of our hospitals.
“Mrs Hazzard has contacted us directly and we are investigating thoroughly to establish what happened.”