Birmingham & Black Country

Zara denied toilet access to woman with Crohn's

Vicky Prime Image copyright Vicky Prime
Image caption Vicky Prime said Crohn's is an "embarrassing disease" but "you just have to crack on"

A Crohn's sufferer says there is a "lack of compassion" for her condition after she was refused access to a toilet whilst shopping on Friday.

Vicky Prime, 32, told the Birmingham Mail she was shopping at Zara in the Bullring when she felt a "strong pain".

Knowing she needed to find a toilet quickly, she asked to use the shop one but was told "it's not for you".

Zara has apologised to Ms Prime and is working with a charity to reinforce training and raise Crohn's awareness.

Image copyright Vicky Prime
Image caption Ms Prime was shopping with her boyfriend David at the time

The inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can affect any part of the digestive system with symptoms ranging from severe diarrhoea and blood in stool to extreme tiredness.

Ms Prime, from Burton-upon-Trent, told the BBC she was "stood there in pain and there was no acknowledgement I was suffering" when a shop assistant denied her access to the staff toilet.

The pain, which Ms Prime said she had felt all down her side, "stops you in your tracks," she said.

Image copyright Vicky Prime
Image caption Ms Prime said she has "grown up with Crohn's" after her sister Rachel was diagnosed as a teenager

She works in Birmingham but said she isn't familiar with where the toilets are in the shopping centre and had to struggle on her own to find them, fearing she would have an accident.

She said she remembered thinking "which door do I go through? Which is the quickest way?" and had to dump her shopping.

It was a "horrendous" experience, she said, and she was "sweaty and teary" when she made it to the bathrooms.

Ms Prime was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2013 and last year had her stoma bag removed. The operation has left her colon "taking time to get working again" which makes it difficult to control her bowel movements.

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Ms Prime said she had had accidents before, but that shops were normally "very helpful" however the way she was treated in Zara showed "a lack of compassion".

"It's so invisible, so I understand when people don't know, but I couldn't understand how someone could be like that."

A Zara spokesperson said the company has apologised to Ms Prime and is working with a charity to reinforce training and raise Crohn's awareness.

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