A MEDICAL worker has been suspended after a disabled man was left locked inside a car in 25 degree heat.
It is believed the man, in his 50s, was left in the vehicle outside Broomfield Hospital for more than an hour.
The man, who had an appointment there, suffered dehydration.
Eyewitnesses described the traumatic events, which eventually saw a team of staff drag him out of the car.
Gill Nesbit, in her 40s, who lives in Chelmsford, was at the hospital at about 3pm last Thursday when the drama unfolded.
She said: “About six people, who to me looked like some kind of ambulance crew, were crowded around the car. A blanket was brought out and placed over the windscreen.
“My first thought was that maybe someone had died, but to my horror about 20 minutes later, a lady dressed in a green uniform walked towards the car and unlocked it.
“To my utter amazement the ambulance crew lifted out this man, who was completely drenched in sweat and had a swollen red face.”
Mrs Nesbitt said she overheard a car park attendant and a member of the nursing staff say the man had been locked in the car parked in direct sunlight and with all its windows up for over an hour.
She added: “It was sickening and distressing.”
ERS Medical, who run the non-emergency patient transport service from the hospital, said the incident was caused by an “accidental error”.
Craig Wood, head nurse at ERS Medical, said: “The member of our team involved in this incident is mortified by their actions and has been suspended while a full investigation takes place.
“We will of course provide a full report of our findings to Mid Essex CCG.
“We offered our sincere apologies for any distress and discomfort caused to the patient. Most importantly we have since been in touch with the patient and can confirm that they are fine.”
The Mid-Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which awarded ERS the non-emergency transport contract on May 1, said it was “extremely sorry and concerned”.
Carol Anderson, director of nursing and quality for Mid Essex CCG, said: “We have launched an immediate and urgent investigation into this matter.
“We would like to make it very clear that the incident itself has nothing to do with Broomfield Hospital where the patient was attending an appointment.
“The hospital does not manage or run any patient transport services.
“We have been assured by ERS that immediate action is being taken and, most importantly, the patient involved is well.”