Blind man told he can’t bring guide dog to life-saving hospital appointments

Mark Burchell, 54, pictured with guide dog Judi - next to a picture of Royal Sussex County Hospital
A blind man has won the fight to have his guide dog allowed into a hospital with him (Picture: Argus/Sax Rohmer/ PA)

Hospital bosses have been forced to apologise to a blind man they banned from bringing his guide dog to medical appointments.

Mark Burchell, 54, survived bladder and prostate cancer in 2017 but the treatment damaged his kidneys and left him needing dialysis three times a week. When he started his treatment in December, he was told it would be perfectly fine for him to bring his guide dog Judi with him to appointments. But when he visited The Royal Sussex County Hospital to check it would be safe for his four-legged assistant, Mark was instead told she would not be allowed in for ‘infection control’.
Mr Burchell said: ‘It wound me up so much.
Hospital bosses have apologised after banning a blind man from bringing his guide dog to dialysis appointments. Mark Burchell has been receiving the life saving kidney treatment three times a week since December. Image shows Mr Burchell and dog Judi.
Mark Burchell, 54, pictured with guide dog Judi, survived bladder and prostate cancer in 2017 (Picture: Argus/Sax Rohmer Ltd)

‘They were not only affecting my hospital trips but stopping me doing things I’d want to do afterwards, like socialising with friends.

‘It was very stressful, not just for me but for my dog – she was left on her own for nearly eight hours at some points.

‘They don’t stop people in wheelchairs or mobility scooters that have been outside from coming in and bringing in possible infection.’

But now, after weeks of Mark protesting the issue, hospital bosses have relented and have allowed Judi to attend appointments with him.

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When she does visit, Judi is not permitted in certain areas of the hospital such as the operating theatre.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton, Sussex, where an investigation is underway today followng claims the body of a stillborn baby was left in a plastic bag next to his parents in the hospital.
When Judi does visit, she is banned from certain rooms like the operating theatre (Picture: PA)
Chief nurse Clare Williams said: ‘I’m extremely sorry that Mr Burchell was prevented from bringing his guide dog to his dialysis treatment, for the disruption to his care and the distress this caused to him and to Judi.

‘Unfortunately, the trust’s infection control policy was not sufficiently clear on how restrictions on dogs in hospital should be applied.’

She added the hospital is now changing its policy on allowing guide dogs into the building.

Mark said: ‘I’m delighted now, I took her for the first time last week and she was amazing.

‘She just sat by my side and was great for four hours when I was there.’