Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 13:07 UK

Patient wins apology for fat jibe

Gary Barton
Gary Barton said he was shocked by the staff's attitude

A hospital has apologised to a diabetic patient after he overheard medical staff insulting him about his weight.

Gary Barton, 48, of Sutton Coldfield, heard a radiographer at the town's Good Hope Hospital make the derogatory comment as he waited for an MRI scan.

The 19-stone (120.7kgs) and 6ft 6ins (198cm) father-of-four heard her insult him and tell a colleague she thought he was "going to break the table".

Heart of England NHS Trust has apologised to Mr Barton.

The former steelworker is registered disabled, suffers from diabetes, arthritis and peripheral neuropathy, which means he has no feeling in his feet or lower legs and walks with a stick.

He said: "I got up onto the table on my own no problems but once I was up there they were getting me to move around a bit.

'Fits of laughter'

"I'm not too bad but I do suffer with arthritis so I wasn't exactly jumping around.

"They gave me headphones to relax me but I think they forgot to turn the intercom off because I could still hear them chatting.

"The nurse said, 'Oooh, that was a bit of a struggle wasn't it', and the radiographer said, 'Yeah, I thought he was going to break the bed'.

That hospital ought to be called No Hope, not Good Hope
Gary Barton

"I was stunned and immediately shouted, 'I heard that'."

Mr Barton said the embarrased radiographer apologised but her colleague "was in fits of laughter".

He added: "It is outrageous and it isn't what you expect from medical staff.

"I won't lie, I wasn't too hurt and upset and I can see the funny side of it but I was shocked by how unprofessional and vindictive the staff were.

"I'm not as big as they made out and even if I was, you expect a certain level of care from medical practitioners, not scorn.

"That hospital ought to be called No Hope, not Good Hope."

'Sincerely apology'

His wife, Michaela Barton, 43, said: "How dare that young woman get away with something so spiteful.

"He tries to shrug it off, but he was visibly upset when he came home and told us what had happened."

In a letter to Mr Barton, the trust said it apologised "unreservedly" for the incident, which happened on 4 February.

It said: "The member of staff involved deeply regrets having made the comments and is fully aware that her behaviour was both totally inappropriate and professionally unacceptable."

It said the radiographer would have faced disciplinary proceedings had Mr Barton not insisted that no further action be taken.

A spokeswoman for Good Hope Hospital said: "We were very disappointed to receive the complaints raised by Mr and Mrs Barton.

"It is not our intention to deliver anything but the highest standards of care to all our patients and if on this occasion we fell short of these standards, we sincerely apologise."

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