How Cellan-Jones’ story could easily have been one of our own

I was saddened to hear BBC journalist and TV regular Rory Cellan-Jones had tripped and fractured his elbow while walking home one night. While his story is a common experience, it got me thinking about how much more difficult it can be to help friends or family members going through the same – especially if they don’t have the right paperwork in place.

Like an old friend

With so many appearances on BBC News and other shows on the TV, Rory Cellan-Jones almost feels like a welcome extra “friend” in our home, as I’m sure many others do. His familiarity became obvious following the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease back in 2019, and the outpouring of support from the British public was similar to that of an old friend.

We were relieved of course to hear that his recent fall was not related to Parkinson’s but instead a rogue branch that had fallen down in the recent storm that had caused him to trip over. However, he reported a trialling ordeal as he was treated for a broken elbow.

Missed fracture

After being bandaged up and initially discharged from Eling hospital, Cellan-Jones talks of “switchboard hell” as he tried to get an update on an operation that was deemed urgent, only to be met by difficulties in getting hold of someone. When he finally had a CT scan, they found his fracture was more serious when they first thought as it had broken the skin, but he was only met with “blank looks”, he reports, when he asked when he would be getting the “urgent antibiotic drop that he was promised would be a priority”, only adding to the anxiety and pan he was already in.

Misery plummeting

After two cancelled slots for surgery, several nights of broken sleep and the frustrations of being in a strained NHS system, Cellan-Jones said he could feel his “misery plummeting” as the symptoms of his Parkinson’s were being exacerbated by the pain in his elbow. He could also feel his mental health deteriorating.

He explained fears to the doctors and nurses, who he says were understanding and lovely despite being hard-pressed. And eventually he was moved to another hospital nearby. Then there was the task of getting hold of his notes, the stagnant communication and what he describes as constant “obstacles.”

Planning ahead

What struck me about Cellan-Jones’ story was how relatable it was – especially as he was already a familiar fixture in many of our own homes, it brought it home even more that this could happen to any of us, or our loved ones, at any time.

There is also the worry that while they go through the “switchboard hell”, “blank looks” and plummeting misery, there may be very little you can do if their condition worsens and there isn’t the correct documentation in place.

Here at Downs Solicitors we can offer advice and support on health and wellness issues, but we can also help you draft a Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) which enables an individual nominated by you to step in and act on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Without an LPA, no one – not even spouses or children – can access your bank account to pay your bills while you’re in hospital, nor can they carry out any wishes you may have relating to any specific medical treatment you might want to receive.

For more information, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking Office

Email: [email protected]