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'My dying wife was shown no dignity in East Lancashire hospitals'
A GRANDMOTHER was ‘cheated of her dignity’ and ‘catastrophically let down’ by hospital staff before her death, her family have claimed.
Raymond Kirkby, 67, said his wife Mary suffered a catalogue of failings during the two years she spent receiving care from the East Lancashire Hospitals Trust.
The grandmother-of-five was treated for a series of strokes at the Royal Blackburn Hospital and Pendle Community Hospital before she died on December 6, 2012.
During her time in hospital her husband said his wife, who had early dementia, was:
- left in a nightdress soaked in urine up to the shoulder blades
- sitting in her faeces
- left naked in bed
- had to go to the toilet independently using a bedside cabinet as a walking aid
- set to be discharged by doctors before a tube was removed from her arm
- forced to undergo physiotherapy despite complaints of pain which turned out to be a broken hip.
Mr Kirkby, a retired special needs teacher, said he was speaking out to stop anyone else suffering like his wife. He said: “The entire care my wife received while she was in hospital was below standard. It was a catastrophic let down.
“She was admitted in to the Royal Blackburn Hospital after suffering a series of strokes. The strokes really affected her mobility and she was only able to walk a couple of hundred yards but to my amazement she was still left to go to the bathroom independently.
“On one occasion she fell trying to make it to the toilet because she had used her bedside cabinet as a zimmer frame.”
Mr Kirby said in one week, the 74-year-old mother-of-three suffered four falls, one at the Royal Blackburn Hospital and three at Pendle Community Hospital with one resulting in a fractured hip.
Mr Kirkby, of Chichester Close, Burnley, said: “One day I went to visit Mary at Pendle Community Hospital. As I arrived I noticed she was crying out in pain and wincing when I touched her leg.
“I told the staff I was concerned and they told me ‘crying is what old people do’.
“I kept pushing it and I later found out she had a broken hip and she had undergone physiotherapy without anyone realising.
“It just breaks my heart that she didn’t get the treatment she deserved.”
Following her fall Mrs Kirkby was re-admitted to Royal Blackburn Hospital where she passed away.
Mr Kirkby and his family have lodged an official complaint with hospital bosses.
In a letter addressing Mr Kirkby’s concerns, East Lancashire Hospital Trust associate director of patient safety and governance, Peter Weller, said: “I wish to reiterate the very sincere apologies given to you by the matrons to whom you described your wife’s experiences. The experiences you described are not acceptable and are not to the standard of care expected within East Lancashire Hospitals. There is very specific guidance relating to these aspects of care including very clear guidance on the use of clothing items for physically vulnerable adults which has been distributed widely within the Trust. I am extremely sorry that this was not always followed.”
Russ Mclean, the chairman of the hospital’s patient voice group, said: “I am shocked and appalled that this has been able to happen especially in light of the recent Francis report about failings at Staffordshire Hospital.
“East Lancashire Hospitals Trust has a number of issues I am currently discussing with the chief executive Mark Brearley.
“All I can say is this must have been terrible firstly for the patient and secondly for the family.
“What I would say is that patients do have the right to vote with their feet. If they do not feel confident enough to visit their local hospital they can choose to be treated wherever they deem fit.
“Anyone who makes a complaint against a hospital and feels they have not had an adequate response should contact the health commissioner who will carry out an independent investigation.”
Mark Brearley, chief executive of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I am sorry to hear that Mr Kirkby has not resolved his concerns. We met and fully investigated and openly responded with Mr Kirkby in 2012.”
He said Mr Kirkby had contacted the trust again, his concerns were being investigated and a response would be issued.