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Wife's fears after patient goes missing from Norwich hospital

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:32 02 July 2010

Jane Havers with her husband Robin, safely back home in Costessey

Jane Havers with her husband Robin, safely back home in Costessey

Sarah Hall

A worried wife today spoke of how she feared for her husband's life when the confused 73-year-old heart patient went missing from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and sparked a major police hunt.

Sarah Hall

A worried wife today spoke of how she feared for her husband's life when the confused 73-year-old heart patient went missing from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and sparked a major police hunt.

Jane Havers said she feared the worst when she was told her husband Robin had wandered out of the hospital and could not be found.

She said she had visions of the ex-Army serviceman, who had been admitted to the hospital at Colney because of concerns over his heart, falling into a river or suffering a cardiac arrest.

Eight police units hunted for the missing pensioner, while his worried family joined in the search to find him after his disappearance yesterday morning.

Mrs Havers, 50, only discovered her husband, who had been admitted to the hospital because of concerns over his heart, had vanished when she rang the Easton ward to check on his condition.

She said: “He'd been taken into hospital at about 3am on Saturday morning because he'd had a chest infection and they had some concerns about his heart.

“He has had two strokes and it has affected his memory, so he gets confused very easily. He's fine when he's at home and with me, but I kept telling the staff that he had these problems and could they keep an eye on him.

“I called them at about 9.15am yesterday morning to see how he was and they said they were about to call me because he'd walked out of the hospital.

“The nurse said she'd seen him at 7.15am and noticed at 8.30am that he had gone missing.

“I didn't know what to do. I was beside myself, thinking about what might happen to him. I was thinking he might have a heart attack or collapse somewhere and I was thinking of him falling into a river.

“All the family went out looking for him in their own cars and the police were brilliant. I was in the back of the police car when we found him near Norvic Drive, off Bluebell Road.

“Because he was confused he couldn't understand why we were making such a fuss.”

Mr Havers, who did National Service in the Army in Germany, was discharged from the hospital later on yesterday and is now back at his home, off Dereham Road in Costessey.

But his wife, who has been married to Mr Havers for 15 years, says she intends to complain about how her husband, who used to work as a groundsman and for Boulton & Paul, was allowed to leave the hospital.

However, Andrew Stronach, spokesman for the hospital, said: “He's a gentleman with a history of confusion and what we think happened is that, on Saturday night, he got a bit of a telling off because he had a cigarette in his room.

“We suspected what had happened yesterday morning was that he had wandered off to have a cigarette somewhere else and we realised he wasn't around at 8.30am.

“We checked with security and they spotted him on the cameras down by the hospital roundabout. We called the police at about 9am and he was back on the ward by 10.50am.”

Mr Stronach added the hospital was not “a prison” and that patients were free to move about.

A spokesman for Norfolk police, said eight police units helped in the hunt for Mr Havers, scouring the roads in the area for any sign of him.

He said officers had spoken to security at the hospital and at the University of East Anglia to help track down the missing man.

The spokesman said: “We sent out every unit we had in the area and also considered calling in for aerial support, but fortunately we found him safe and well.”

Do you want to thank emergency services for their work? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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