News Item Four


Original article at Daily Record
15 February 2006

Doc hits out as firewalker costs the NHS more cash than he raises for charity

By Patrick Mulchrone

A FIREWALKER cost the NHS £3000 by burning his feet in a world record bid which raised £2000 for charity.

Scott Bell's 250ft journey over red-hot coals landed him in hospital for 10 days.

The 36-year-old dad-of-two had to have surgery on his feet, which then became infected. It has yet to be confirmed whether he has clinched the record.

But NHS officials estimated taxpayers had to shell out £300 a day for his 10-day stay in Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Consultant plastic surgeon Steven Jeffery suggested that high-risk activities such as firewalking should be taxed.

He said: "Every dangerous sport carries with it a risk of injury.

"Smokers have a higher risk of cancer but we tax them a lot more.

"Perhaps organisers of firewalking events should be expected to pay."

He said it was possible to firewalk uninjured, as the contact time with the hot coals was low.

But he added: "This chap shows that sometimes it can go wrong."

However, Scott, who lives in Carlisle and runs a fire walking company, hit back. He said he waited two days for a scan and was "twiddling his thumbs" for another five days.

He claimed the hospital kept him in a bed when it could have been used for a more important patient.

He said: "What they're saying isn't fair on me.

"I would ask the staff if I could go home but nothing happened.

"I knew I wasn't a priority. There was no rush from them, I was always apologising to them for taking up the bed.

"It didn't help that I got an infection in my foot but to be in there for 10 days was silly.

"I should have been in there for two or three days maximum. I feel like they wasted a lot of time on me."