A teenage girl paralysed from the waist down has had to leave an NHS hospital after being ordered to pay almost £300 a day for her care.
Hockey international Charlotte Wilkinson-Burnett, 19, has been confined to a wheelchair since suffering head and spinal injuries in an accident at a summer camp.
She had been in Leicester Royal Infirmary since September but doctors were unable to offer any further treatment.
Hockey international Charlotte Wilkinson-Burnett, 19, has been confined to a wheelchair since suffering head and spinal injuries in an accident at a summer camp
While some could find no reason for her condition, others told Charlotte and her parents that she is suffering from conversion disorder, a little-understood condition where blindness or paralysis is caused psychologically.
But her parents say psychiatrists at the hospital said there was nothing wrong with her mind.
Despite this, managers said she was a bed blocker and must leave her bed unless she paid £298 a day – the equivalent cost for private care.
This is the first known case of a trust threatening to charge a patient.
Charlotte, from Loughborough, had been due to begin training as an Army doctor in September and was one of a handful of cadets who worked for Prince Harry’s charity, Sentebale, in Lesotho.
Managers at Leicester Royal Infirmary said she was a bed blocker and must leave her bed unless she paid £298 a day - the equivalent cost for private care. This is the first known case of a trust threatening to charge a patient
She had played hockey for England under-21s and represented her county at cross-country running.
While working as an instructor for a Camp America holiday camp in Rhode Island, she slipped in the bathroom and fractured her spine.
It was later discovered that fluid had leaked from her brain into her spine.
Her mother Alison, 43, said that Charlotte’s care in hospital was ‘negligent and appalling’.
The family also say that doctors refused to refer Charlotte to a specialist spinal unit.
Her mother Alison (right), 43, said that Charlotte's care in hospital was 'negligent and appalling'. The family also say that doctors refused to refer Charlotte to a specialist spinal unit
Last month, the chief executive of Leicester University NHS trust, Malcolm Lowe-Lauri, wrote to the family saying that she no longer needed ‘hospital care’ so unless she left, she must pay the rate charged to private patients of £298 a day.
Her family brought her home last week after the hospital threatened to begin charging the following day.
Charlotte has to be carried upstairs to the bathroom by her father Stephen, 48, a builder.
As doctors have refused to refer her on to specialist units, the family are hoping to send Charlotte for a private consultation at the Royal Berkshire hospital, which specialises in brain and spinal conditions.
A Leicester hospital spokesman said: ‘Charlotte has been diagnosed with conversion disorder in three hospitals in the U.S. and UK.
‘There is no physical problem for our doctors to treat and further medical interventions would only exacerbate the condition.
'Doctors agree it would be in her best interests to continue her care at home, and that would give her the best chance of recovery.’
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