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WAR OF THE WARDS; ROSE V NHS She's totally baffled by the whole thing..and her family are furious at claims of racism.

Byline: AIDAN McGURRAN and CHARLIE BAIN

ANGRY relatives of NHS "victim" Rose Addis yesterday denied she was a racist.

Rose's family told the hospital they have accused of ignoring her that any such suggestion was "below the belt".

As the row escalated, with both sides claiming Rose's treatment was being used as a political football by Government and Tories, the 94-year-old grandmother was said to be "totally baffled" by events.

The frail pensioner was allegedly left in casualty with a head wound for nearly three days with blood-caked socks and without being washed or changed.

Consultant James Malone-Lee suggested on BBC2's Newsnight that she refused to allow black staff to change her.

Yesterday Rose's grandson Jason Gold, 45, said: "We are very disappointed by the implication she is racist.

"My grandmother has two social carers, both from ethnic minorities, who she adores. The team leader on her case is also from an ethnic minority.

"What makes it worse is that, being Jewish, we feel we are also an ethnic minority. To be accused of racism is below the belt."

Details of Rose's care in hospital were spelt out by Tony Blair's spokesman after Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith told MPs she would have been better treated if she were a dog". Speaking at the family home in Woodford, East London, Mr Gold said: "I think such an intrusion is a disgrace.

"This episode has turned into a political football. Politicians and hospital administrators have questions to answer.

"We're not making a political stand. This issue is about how an elderly and very frail woman was not given the care she should have been given."

He added that Rose's care in Whittington Hospital, North London, since leaving casualty had been "fantastic".

Mr Gold said: "My grandmother is recovering but is still very unstable. She is totally baffled by what is going on."

His mother Zena, 72, admitted it was three days before she visited Rose, saying she did not have a car for travel.

She said: "I was told she was OK. When I did see her, her description beggared belief. I had to kick up a fuss or they'd probably have forgotten about her."

Last night it was revealed that Prof Malone-Lee was a Labour activist and a party member for more than 20 years.

But he denied this had influenced him to defend the NHS. He said: "It is incumbent on me to separate my political beliefs from my professional role."

On Wednesday, Mr Malone-Lee was asked on Newsnight whether Rose's refusal to change had a racial motive. He replied: "People could deduce that."

Yesterday he said: "I was bounced a question which I answered in a logical manner and people have interpreted it.

"The hospital has never said at any stage that her motivation was racist."

The consultant insisted staff had tried to persuade Rose to let them change her clothes, said she was constantly monitored on A&E, placed in a private room the first night and then put on a ward.

Clearly angered at Mr Duncan Smith's attack, he added: "To attack us in this badly informed way is unacceptable.

"The staff involved in this case behaved impeccably and offered a very high level of care."

CAPTION(S):

FURY: Rose's grandson, Jason; DEFIANT: Professor Malone-Lee
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 25, 2002
Words:549
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