Ex-spin doctor Alastair Campbell hospitalised at Royal Free for severe bout of dysentery
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell has praised staff at the Royal Free Hospital for their “absolutely amazing” care after he was admitted for three nights with a severe bout of dysentery.
Mr Campbell had been treated by paramedics at his Gospel Oak home on two occasions before being taken to hospital, as the 56-year-old tried to work through his illness.
But he was ultimately forced into the wards on September 16 having lost more than a stone in weight.
“I felt really weird,” he said. “I was drenched in sweat, my teeth were chattering and I was shivering – I caught a reflection of myself in a mirror and I looked like death.”
He added: “It makes me so angry when I hear people slagging off the Royal Free.
“The whole thing seemed to me as if it worked really well. I had a very good specialist and his support team was excellent too, so I was never worried.”
The ex-Number 10 press chief, whose three children were born at the Royal Free in Pond Street, Hampstead, took the opportunity to condemn the coalition government and the media for its criticism of sections of the National Health Service (NHS).
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He told the Ham&High: “I think the government has a deliberate strategy to undermine the NHS so that they can bring in new reforms which they didn’t get a mandate for, and so that they can give bigger parts of it to the private sector.
“It used to be a given that everybody loved and supported nurses, but now you pick up the papers and there is a lot of negativity about things that go wrong.
“The vast majority of people who work in the NHS at every level are doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances and for not a very great reward.”
Speaking after Labour leader Ed Miliband outlined a party conference pledge to reduce the number of non-EU migrants coming to Britain, he showed resentment towards claims that a rise in immigration has contributed to the alleged deterioration of hospital care.
“I reckon there were about 15 different nationalities that I came across,” said Mr Campbell.
“It was the nurses, porters, cleaners, doctors, anaesthetists, pharmacists, X-rays specialists and CT-scanning experts. It was just extraordinary.
“Denigration of the NHS does not help staff morale or commitment and it doesn’t help to tell the truth about what is actually going on.”
Mr Campbell, who was rushed to hospital “10 days late” due to his determination to attend the funerals of legendary broadcaster Sir David Frost and former Daily Mirror journalist Geoffrey Goodman, by-passed the Accident and Emergency department owing to his track record of stomach and colon problems.
He has since returned to public life and was seen running in Brighton on Monday where the patron of Mind charity has been campaigning for minimum unit alcohol pricing, as well as publicising his new novel My Name Is… inspired by his previous drink-related issues.
He said of his bout of dysentery: “I have been treated in the past for a colitis, which is a type of bowel disorder, though the doctors think this was probably something I picked up abroad,” said Mr Campbell. “I’ve been away quite a lot recently, a lot in the Balkans and central Europe – but I could have got it in Camden Town.”
A spokesman for the Royal Free said: “We’re delighted that Mr Campbell was pleased with the care he received at the Royal Free and have passed his feedback on to the staff involved in his care.”