THE family of a Newport pensioner who went missing a week ago say it has been the worst week of their lives.

Ron Bowman, 74, from Langstone, went missing from Panteg Hospital in Griffithstown on June 29.

His wife, Irene, 73, and sons, Nick, 47, and Martyn, 43, described the last seven days as a “nightmare” and said they don’t want anyone to go through what they have.

Martyn said: “We don’t want anyone else to fall into the same predicament as us.

“It has been hell – the worst week of my life.”

Mrs Bowman added: “It’s the not knowing that’s the worst part. We’re in limbo at the moment.”

Mr Bowman, who helped raise money for the charity The Chepstow Lions over the last 15 years, has dementia and was transferred to a psychiatric unit at Panteg Hospital after being treated for meningitis at Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital.

The grandfather has a form of epilepsy and the family said his health has been getting worse.

Martyn Bowman claimed his father had managed to leave Panteg Hospital on two other occasions before June 29, and each time was found after about five to ten minutes in the hospital car park.

Mrs Bowman visited her husband every day and left the hospital at 4.45pm on June 29.

The family believe Mr Bowman left the hospital at 5.45pm through a window in another patient’s room.

They said he was seen by a porter at around 6pm, who, they said, thought Mr Bowmanwas a visitor.

Police dogs and a helicopter have been involved in the search and Mr Bowman’s sons have been out looking for their father every day.

The family said Mr Bowman was seen at around 6.05pm by a boy near the river at an industrial park half a mile away from the hospital, and he asked him how far away Langstone was.

He was also spotted near an underpass by two other boys.

On Tuesday the family was told that Mr Bowman’s shoes had been found under a railway bridge near the underpass.

Mr Bowman is described as six feet tall, of slim build and bald but with grey hair around the sides of his head.

He was wearing a white Tshirt and brown trousers.

Anyone who might have seen Mr Bowman should call Gwent Police on 101.

‘Security changes are needed’

MR BOWMAN’S family said they have contacted a solicitor to find out more about how he left the hospital, and want changes to its procedures, raising the issue of whether or not there should be CCTV on the premises.

Nick Bowman said: “They need to put actions in place to stop this happening again.”

A spokesman for the Aneurin Bevan Health Board said: “We share the concerns of the family and friends of Mr Bowman and our hope is that he is safe, and is found very soon.

"In cases where a patient leaves a ward where they are being treated and cared for an internal investigation would always take place.

"Whilst we are confident at this stage that every possible precaution was taken to ensure Mr Bowman's safety, the matter will be fully investigated and we will liaise closely with the family in relation to our findings.”