HOSPITAL bosses have apologised after wrongly banning a blind man from bringing his guide dog in for appointments.

Mark Burchell, of Manor Hall Road, Southwick, has been going to the Royal Sussex County Hospital three times a week since December for kidney dialysis.

When he first started the treatment, Mr Burchell, who is registered blind, was informed that it would be okay for him to bring his guide dog Judi with him to appointments.

However, soon afterwards the 54-year-old was told this was not the case and Judi would not be allowed in the hospital for “infection control” reasons.

Mr Burchell said: “When I was told to start dialysis, they said it wouldn’t be a problem for Judi to come with me.

“The first week I wanted to go on my own before taking the dog into the environment.

“I told them I’d be bringing Judi at the end of my first week and they said she wasn’t allowed in. It wound me up so much.

“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.”

After weeks of Mr Burchell protesting the issue, bosses at The Royal Sussex have decided he will be allowed to bring Judi with him to appointments – although she is not allowed in certain rooms in the building, such as the operating theatre.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust 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.

“We are now changing the policy to prevent this situation happening again and have been able to apologise to Mr Burchell and assure him that he is very welcome to bring Judi to all his appointments.”

Mr Burchell 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.”

A statement from Guide Dogs UK said: “We are pleased that, following information and support from Guide Dogs, the Royal Sussex County Hospital is able to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate Mr Burchell and his guide dog.

“The Equality Act states that people with sight loss have the same right to access medical facilities as everyone else. If there are areas where a guide dog cannot be allowed due to infection control or health and safety reasons, the centre has a duty to put plans in place to accommodate someone with sight loss.”

Mr Burchell was cleared of bladder and prostate cancer in 2017, and although he is rid of the disease, it damaged his kidneys which left him needing regular dialysis.