The wife of a man who needs round-the-clock care after being struck down with a rare disease has raised concerns after struggling to get the medical supplies he needs to stay alive.
Ken Longstaff, of Darlington, depends on care for his daily needs after being diagnosed with Guillain Barre syndrome in 2012.
The condition left him locked up for seven weeks and the 64-year-old, who has discovered a talent for art since his diagnosis, is now confined to a wheelchair and requires round-the-clock care.
His wife Beverley, 62, has raised concerns about obtaining essential medical supplies for the past six months via the Darlington District Nursing Team, through whom she is believed to be able order them.
County Durham and the Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, which is leading the team, said global logistics issues were having a “significant impact” on the supply of some items in the North East – but decided to reassure patients that the trust was working to ensure patients were never deprived of essential equipment.
Mrs Longstaff wants to raise awareness of the issue after struggling to get replacement tubes for her husband’s tracheostomy, which he needs to help him breathe, as well as a special type of essential water for his ventilator , which he needs at night .
He usually keeps a spare game in his bag, which accompanies him everywhere, as well as two at home.
However, the couple struggled to replace the kit as it is used and recently recorded backup compliance due to difficulty obtaining the tracheostomy tube.
She said: “I had an incident where they said they couldn’t have a tracheotomy. I kept trying and trying, then they sent me one that was completely different.
“We got to the stage about a week ago where we only had one left, which is the one he wears all the time.”
Recalling an incident last week, she said she was called at 5 a.m. by her carer to help as he was struggling to breathe.
After being unable to clear her airway by suction, she feared having to use the unknown tracheotomy, and would then find herself in a position where she would have no reserve in case of another emergency. Fortunately, after several attempts, they managed to clear the airways.
She added: “My problem is that if we were to use the other one and it hadn’t worked, I would have a dead man on my hands.”
Mrs. Longstaff, who works as a receptionist at Woodland Hospital, at Darlington, spent several days last week trying to get supplies, which she managed to get to intensive care from James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough and Darlington Memorial Hospital.
She said, “The only reason we have them is because I begged and borrowed and stole from other people. I got them from the intensive care units, but that means they no longer have those supplies.
“There will be people like us who will struggle to get supplies and they won’t have the contacts we have.”
She added: “We’re lucky because where I work I have contacts. What about an OAP who doesn’t know who to ask for help? danger.
“It shouldn’t be something I deal with at all. People need to know that’s a problem.
A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The current global manufacturing and logistics issues are having a significant impact on the supply of certain clinical and other items across the NHS. We are working closely with the NHS supply chain to find alternative products if needed.
“Our patients always come first and we fully understand Mr Longstaff’s family’s concern that certain equipment is not currently as readily available as it once was and we apologize for the concern this has caused them. We are in close contact with Mr. Longstaff’s family to ensure they have the equipment he needs.
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