A man has spent the last 18 months in a wheelchair because bungling doctors failed to spot he had a broken hip.

George Bailey, of Hoe Lane, Enfield, is now considering legal action against Chase Farm Hospital after it discharged him with the untreated fracture in June, 2003.

Since then, the 56-year-old's world has been turned upside down and he has been forced to quit his job as a chartered accountant in Cheshunt.

He said: "I feel very angry because this has destroyed my life. My income has gone down to a quarter of what it was. I could not get out of the house for months until social services built a wheelchair ramp to my home. It seems to me that this is a case of negligence."

Mr Bailey, who lives alone, was taken to the hospital after he reported feeling searing pain in his left leg in June, 2003.

"Doctors had it x-rayed," he said. "They told me to lie in bed for a few weeks. At the time I did not think they had misdiagnosed anything. I thought I just needed a great deal of effort to fight through the pain and get walking."

In August 2003, Mr Bailey was sent home but was unable to readjust. "I spent the first eight months in a wheelchair.

It was very painful at first, and though it has subsided, the pain still keeps me awake at night.

"Earlier this month, my GP sent me back to the hospital because the pain was not getting any better, and when doctors looked at the old x-ray they saw the fracture."

It is not the first time a misdiagnosis has embarrassed the hospital in The Ridgeway.

In June last year, the Independent revealed how Dawn Criddle, of Carterhatch Road, was told to leave the hospital with nothing but painkillers, only to discover later she had broken her neck.

The chairman of the Public and Patient Improvement (PPI) forum at Chase Farm Hospital, Alex Nunes, said: "This kind of incident occurs rarely, and we have to accept the fact that medicine is not always an exact science. My sympathies are with Mr Bailey."

A spokeswoman for Chase Farm Hospital said the trust had launched an investigation to discover how Mr Bailey's fracture was missed. "We would like to apologise to Mr Bailey for what has happened and the additional pain he suffered."

She added that he would be scheduled for a hip replacement operation "as soon as we can find a slot for him".