Bury St Edmunds: Hospital refutes poor care claim

THE DISTRESSING account of a Suffolk grandmother’s alleged deterioration in hospital has been revealed in a report by a patient lobby group.

The Patients’ Association has published a collection of 17 first-hand accounts of hospital care for older patients from across the NHS.

The association claimed the report highlighted “serious failings” in standards of nursing care, poor communication with relatives and an ineffective complaints handling system.

Liz Pryor, from Hertfordshire, has written an account of the alleged treatment of her mother, Anne Robson, from Suffolk, at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds.

Mrs Pryor said her mother was admitted to hospital on January 16 with a bruised hip and died, aged 79, only hours after she was discharged a week later.

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She said in the care of health professionals her mother “deteriorated unnoticed”. She said: “On the day she died, when she could not recognise her own daughter, or lift her head from the pillow, she was deemed fit for discharge by staff at West Suffolk Hospital.”

But Stephen Graves, chief executive of West Suffolk Hospital, said the hospital had “full confidence” that the clinical care Mrs Robson received was appropriate and met her medical needs.

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Accusations of lack of care in Mrs Pryor’s account include that her mother had been left wearing a nighty that was “wet up to her armpits” in urine, that she became badly dehydrated and incredibly thin.

One of the frustrations expressed by Mrs Pryor is that it might have been possible for her mother to be discharged before she began to suffer with diarrhoea as she claims the family were initially incorrectly told her mother’s hip was fractured when it was not.

When Mrs Robson returned to her nursing home, near Lavenham, she was drinking from a small sponge and unable to speak, Mrs Pryor claimed. The grandmother, and mother-of-five, was found to have died from natural causes and there is not due to be an inquest.

Mr Graves said the hospital wanted to once again extend its sincere condolences to Mrs Robson’s family.

“We are sorry that Mrs Pryor feels the care her mother received fell below the high standards we would expect. We have met with Mrs Robson’s family on two occasions so that we could discuss their concerns in more detail and answer any questions they had. In addition, we have fully investigated Mrs Pryor’s initial complaint and fed back the results to the family.”

Mrs Pryor said: “I would really like to see guidelines put in place where they can monitor deterioration in elderly patients whose vital signs may seem fine, but they are slipping away.”

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