Plea to end disability champion’s bed agony

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An ex-paralympian who fought to improve lives in the community over several decades is in agony due to an unsuitable bed.

Virginia Zammit-Haymond is in constant pain with bedsores and bruises caused by her current nursing bed.

Virginia, fondly known as ‘Ginny’, of Clarkes Way, Houghton Regis, has been disabled from the neck down for more than 40 years after being injured in a road accident.

She has fought to live a full life, written inspiring books, been the first tetraplegic woman to swim a mile, and has even flown two planes.

But she says she has never felt tested like this before.

Ginny said: “If I wasn’t as strong-willed, I’d have had a nervous breakdown by now.

“The bed is so narrow. I need to have space at both sides, but as I turn, I hit the bars which means I’m not turning over properly.

“It means I’m on my back, which I shouldn’t be if I’m spending all day in the wheelchair.”

She added: “I’ve got pressure sores. It’s just been horrendous. I’ve got a wound on my right side.”

Ginny was required to change her previous bed three months ago after it was judged by an occupational therapist to be too low, requiring carers to bend down.

She was given her current bed and says the situation has gradually got worse. Funds are apparently not available to pay for a custom-made bed that would suit her needs.

In spite of her own problems, Ginny has sat on dozens of local committees, including those of the Disability Resource Centre and Dunstable Access, and she formerly chaired disability group HEDGE.

Her sister, Ann Bradley, drove down from Scotland to check on her condition. Mrs Bradley said: “It was shocking, and her carers are appalled at the way she’s been left. Virginia suffers constant pain and I’ve just been horrified by what she’s had to go through.

“She’s done so much for the community, fought their causes and never asked for anything. Now she needs some assistance and it’s not happening.”

Near falls from the bed have required Ginny to place an Ottoman chair close by. Recently, an ambulance was called after she almost fell during the night.

A spokesman for Occupational Therapy at Central Beds Council said: “While we are unable to comment on individual cases, I can confirm that we will be meeting with Ms Zammit-Haymond to reassess her needs and to discuss the situation further.”