Widow's dismay at investigation

A WOMAN whose husband died after breaking his hip at a Suffolk health centre has told of her concern at learning the police were now investigating a similar injury at the same unit.

A WOMAN whose husband died after breaking his hip at a Suffolk health centre has told of her concern at learning the police were now investigating a similar injury at the same unit.

Last week the EADT revealed how 69-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer Graham Barrett had sustained an “unexplained” hip fracture while staying at Suffolk Mental Health Trust's Wedgwood Unit, based at the back of West Suffolk Hospital, in January this year.

His fracture, which the family claimed resembled the type of injury sustained in a car crash, is now at the centre of a police and health trust investigation.

The police are investigating whether the injury was the result of any criminal activity.


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Yesterday, Gladys Davey, of Palgrave, near Diss, voiced her concerns after learning of Mr Barrett's injuries.

Her husband Kenneth, a former RAF serviceman, died in January 2004 after fracturing his hip at the Wedgwood Unit in Bury St Edmunds.

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The 82-year-old's fractured hip went undiagnosed for 10 days, an inquest held in 2004 heard. The coroner in the case, Dr Peter Dean, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

But Mrs Davey, 78, said she was devastated to learn that another elderly man had fractured his hip in the wake of her own husband's injury.

She said she had been assured that improvements would be made to the unit - including the installation of special fall-breaking mats and lower beds.

Mrs Davey, whose husband died without her there, said: “They were supposed to put in special beds and special flooring to stop this type of thing.”

Describing the day she took her husband to the unit, Mrs Davey said: “As we were heading to the unit, Dave (Kenneth) said he thought the best thing for us to do was to turn right around and go home. I now wonder why I let him go in. I wonder what might have happened if I had acted a little differently.

“I lay in bed thinking about this. The staff in that unit do have a difficult job. But I was so concerned when I saw the piece about Mr Barrett.”

Mrs Davey was told her husband had fallen out of bed. He was found five days after his arrival at the unit lying on the floor of his room. He was taken for an X-ray but the ward doctor was unable to access the computer system on which the test results would have been displayed.

As a result Mr Davey spent 10 days with an undiagnosed hip fracture. And during that time he was encouraged to exercise and walk by ward staff, Mrs Davey claimed.

Alan Staff, director at the trust, said a number of recommendations had been made following the death of Mr Davey.

The trust improved systems for interpreting radiology results, provided lower beds to help prevent falls and now assesses patients to see whether they would be helped by laying special mats down around their beds. Mats had to be carefully considered, Mr Staff said, because there was also a risk with mats that people could trip over them.

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