CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Cancer patient’s fury after top hotel stops him using toilets

Front manager says 'homeless people make a mess' in facilities

01 March, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Mike Elles outside the Ambassadors

A RETIRED actor caught short after cancer treatment was stopped from using the toilet at a top-rated hotel. Mike Elles, a retired TV actor and interior designer, was on his way home from having radiotherapy for prostate cancer at University College Hospital.

He complained in writing to the manager of the Ambassadors in Upper Woburn Walk, Bloomsbury, four weeks ago but said he has not had a response or an apology.

The 70-year-old was in a “desperate situation” on his way back home to Judd Street, King’s Cross, from hospital but was told to leave.

Mr Elles, who appeared in several BBC television series including Doctor Who and Z Cars and the Halifax Our House commercials of the 1980s, said: “I explained that I was being treated for prostate cancer. I pressed the urgency of the situation but I was told that unless I had booked a room or was in a meeting I could not use their facilities. “I’m afraid I lost my temper realising that I was getting nowhere with such intransigence. I fled the building and in great distress and discomfort.”


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He added: “I am 70 years old, I am five foot four, I am slim, was quite well dressed, well spoken, not that that should matter, and it was obvious I was in desperate need. There are no public toilets anywhere around here – I thought the government told businesses to be more considerate to people who need to use their facilities.”

Part of the treatment for the cancer, which often leads to patients needing to go the toilet suddenly and without warning, involves “an enema and drink five cups of water”, said Mr Elles. “The resulting need to be near a toilet after treatment is essential as it can be both unpredictable and urgent. Each patient develops their own coping mechanisms for the journey home.”

Mr Elles, who has lived in Judd Street for more than 50 years, said he had heard fellow patients taking zippable freezer bags with them to hospital for the way home.

Mike Elles in a famous Halifax advert

Prostate cancer survival depends on early detection. The cancer’s symptoms include urinary problems like finding it hard to urinate or pain during urination, to blood in the urine, and pelvis pain.

He added: “When I was younger I did lots of commercials, lots of theatre – and in the gaps I was an interior designer and fitted bookcases. I’ve actually made a reasonable living from all my school hobbies. I have lived in this area for 51 years.”

Imran Nawaz, front office manager at the Ambassadors, said: “Our washrooms are for guest using our facilities. We have had homeless people in the past, using the washrooms and making a mess of it. Due to this reason, hotel security is always on high alert. We have a reception desk at the entrance and if he would have approached the desk and explained to them his situation, they would have given him permission to use the toilet.”

He added:“We understand on this occasion Mr Michael Elles only mentioned his medical condition as he was leaving the hotel.”

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