Fri 12 Nov, 2004 02:40 pm
Man dumped after drive from Spain
By David Sapsted
An English family drove from their home in southern Spain to east London to abandon an ailing grandfather in a hospital casualty department.
The 82-year-old man, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, was left with a note saying: "Please look after him - we can't cope any more."
His wife had also left his birth certificate and a note about his condition.
Staff at Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, found the man sitting "confused and upset" in the waiting room last week.
Doctors examined him before referring him to Havering social services, which are looking after him on an emergency basis in a nursing home.
Help the Aged described the case yesterday as "the worst of its kind" it had come across and said it was indicative of a growing problem of families struggling to care for elderly relatives.
The family, including the man and his wife, have been identified. They are understood to have moved to Spain from the Romford area several years ago.
Havering council said: "We are working with various agencies, including the British consulate, to try to make contact with the family to discuss the future.
"In the meantime we shall look after the man as long as is necessary."
Help the Aged said the family appeared to have experienced particular problems because they lived abroad. But it said that many families at home had similar problems.
"It is obviously extreme for an elderly relative to be dumped in a hospital's A&E department," a spokesman said. "But the case does illustrate the sort of problems that can arise in looking after somebody who is elderly or ill. It can be extreme stressful and these pressures can all too easily build up.
"The message must be that there are organisations and agencies ready to offer support. People should seek out this support before the the situation becomes impossible to cope with."
The practice may be extreme, but the established term for the practice is "Granny dumping".