Shocking' condition

PUBLISHED: 10:40 28 September 2006 | UPDATED: 14:50 12 May 2010

Craig Hamill, who lost more than one quarter of his body weight

Craig Hamill, who lost more than one quarter of his body weight

THE care manager at Meldreth Manor School has criticised a hospital over the treatment a student received. Craig Hamill, who attends the special school for young people with physical and learning difficulties in Fenny Lane, Meldreth, was admitted to Watfo

THE care manager at Meldreth Manor School has criticised a hospital over the treatment a student received.

Craig Hamill, who attends the special school for young people with physical and learning difficulties in Fenny Lane, Meldreth, was admitted to Watford General Hospital with a broken left leg.

Cerebral palsy sufferer Craig, spent four weeks at the hospital.

During his stay, the 18-year-old lost more than a quarter of his body weight - upon entering Craig weighed 29kgs, but when he left he weighed just 21kgs.

And despite his physical plight, the hospital still discharged him, a decision that Meldreth Manor's care manager Jamie Cousins said was "shocking".

Mr Cousins said: "He left the hospital severely dehydrated and malnourished. It was clear he was in very poor health - he had significant weight loss, a high temperature, and subdued personality.

"He has quite severe physical disabilities and a dramatic loss in body weight could have had serious implications for him."

The school's nursing team called a GP, who arranged for an ambulance to take Craig to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

"Craig's welfare was of paramount importance to us and he was our primary concern. Addenbrooke's treated Craig with the support of Meldreth Manor care staff, and both Craig's father and Meldreth Manor are confident in the quality of care provided by Addenbrooke's," said Mr Cousins.

"The condition he returned in from Watford Hospital was shocking and this would suggest his needs were not met during his stay there. Hospital staff need to know how to care for a patient with additional support needs."

Craig's father Hugh Hamill said that despite being given specific instructions on how to feed him, staff simply did not have the time to meet his son's requirements.

Mr Hamill, 49, said: "I had to go into the hospital at 7am to give him the breakfast he was used to.

"If he didn't eat what was set down in front of him, it was taken away. There just weren't the staff to meet his individual needs."

Craig cannot talk or walk and often needs to be fed through a gastrostomy tube fitted to his stomach.

A spokesperson for the cerebral palsy charity Scope, said: "It is a huge worry that the NHS failed to care appropriately for Craig and our primary concern now is to ensure that he returns to full health."

Craig is now receiving treatment at Addensbrooke's Hospital. Doctors were worried about a sore that had developed on his left knee, a result of the metal plate that was inserted after his accident and carried out an operation yesterday (Wednesday).

Mr Cousins said: "Craig is recovering slowly, and we hope that when he fully recovers he will be back to his usual self."

Craig has been at Meldreth Manor for nine years. When not at school, he lives with his father in Watford.

A spokesman for Watford General Hospital said: "We are aware of issues being raised about Craig's care and we are investigating these concerns.

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