Leanne Reed, who is 21, suffers from mental health problems and Tourette Syndrome and qualifies for help through Recovery Assistance Dogs (RAD).
Her labrador cross Nala is always at her side. She helps Leanne breathe when she has a panic attack by licking her mouth and nose and she stops her from hurting herself during her Tourette’s.
"The Tourette’s causes tics where I hit my head with my fists or to bang myself into a wall. Nala senses when I’m about to do it and she puts herself between my fist and head or my body and a wall.” she said.
Leanne also has chronic physical health problems and has spent the past five weeks as an inpatient at MK Hospital.
She says she first asked last month if Nala could be with her, a claim MK Hospital denies.
“The nurses said no because dogs were banned. I didn’t know my rights at that point so I didn’t argue,” she claims.
"I can’t cope without Nala. I get depressed and anxious and I feel suicidal without her in hospital.”
This week Leanne contacted RAD, whose spokesman Maryrose Terry took her up cause.
In a letter to hospital chief executive Joe Harrison, Maryrose wrote: “I was disturbed to be informed that a registered RAD Member and their assistance dog is being discriminated against in your hospital. Under The Equality Act 2010 it is illegal to discriminate against a MHDI disabled person and their assistance dog.”
She added: “I am concerned at the RAD member’s experience and I would like to know how you justify such intolerable illegal behaviour from the hospital.”
Maryrose had demanded that Nala be allowed into the hospital immediately. “I have not had any joy, after several fruitless phone calls,” she wrote.
Maryrose said RAD has reported MK Hospital to the Equalities Commission.
A spokesperson for the hospital told the Citizen they were unaware of Leanne’s previous requests.
He said: “A request for the indefinite stay of a recovery assistance dog was made on Tuesday 10 May. On Wednesday (May 11), following a full risk assessment, the hospital approved the overnight stay of the dog while we reviewed the request to have the dog on the ward for the full duration of the remainder of the patient’s stay.”
Sadly Nala’s carers could not get the dog there in time last night.
The spokesman added: “The hospital supports patients to bring their assistance dogs to the hospital where they are required. For inpatients, our clinical staff conduct a full assessment of the environment and review whether the medical needs of the patient can be met.”
"We have also supported the visits of dogs to their owners to improve the wellbeing of both long-stay and end-of-life patients. The visits are approved on an individual basis with due consideration given to the welfare of our patients and their pet.
“Our staff are in constant discussion with the patient about their care, the support available to them within the hospital and the progress of their request for their assistance dog.”
A decision is pending over whether or not Nala can stay.