Trust apologises for elderly care failings

NO DIGNITY: Maisie Walton.
NO DIGNITY: Maisie Walton.

AN NHS trust has apologised for its failings in the treatment of an elderly woman who was left in a soiled bed in Dewsbury and District Hospital.

Cleckheaton grandmother Maisie Walton, 89, was admitted to hospital in June after a fall – but died on July 4 after contracting blood poisoning and pneumonia.

Mrs Walton’s story has been highlighted by the Patients’ Association as one of the 13 worst cases in the country reported to them over the past year.

Her family said she was given medication she was allergic to, a bag of soiled clothes was left in her locker, and she fell and cut her leg after being left unaided while using a commode.

Her daughter Jeanette Vaines and son David Walton have spoken out about their experiences at the hospital prior to their mother’s death – and the hospital trust has apologised.

Mrs Vaines said: “Mum didn’t get the respect, dignity and level of care we’d want for anyone.

“We want to flag up our concerns so the situation can be addressed and others have a much more positive experience and feel safe, secure and well cared for.”

The family said a ‘do not resuscitate’ order was given without proper consultation and was then discussed in front of Mrs Walton.

MRSA and c-diff test results took six days, during which time the family say they saw many examples of poor hygiene including family members not instructed to wash their hands, notes left on the floor, their mother’s room not cleaned, and diarrhoea cleaned up solely with paper towels.

The family said the day before Mrs Walton’s death she complained of a severe headache but it took an hour and a half for a doctor to respond. They were told only one doctor was responsible for treating the entire hospital’s patients that night.

They said they were unhappy leaving Mrs Walton after she said nursing staff were nice during visiting times but not always after they had gone.

They also had ‘grave concerns’ about her cause of death, as medical documents did not initially correspond.

Jeanette said: “Some staff were hardworking, caring, and very concerned for our mother’s welfare, but others displayed none of these qualities, and seemed totally apathetic towards her worsening condition.

“We would like to know how our mother started her care with a bruised leg, but ended up with overwhelming sepsis.

“Mum was an extremely positive person who loved life. She would have wanted us to do something positive and make things better for other people.”

Cameron Miller, Patients’ Association helpline manager, said: “It is important that we publicise these accounts, to make sure that patients’

accounts of their health and social care treatment is always at the forefront key decision makers as they strive for improvements.

“More needs to be done to ensure that patients are at the centre of decision making, along with professionals and other key groups, to ensure that any reforms benefit all.”

Kate Harper, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust director of quality, said: “We offer our sincere and deepest apologies to the family for the care experienced by their mother and for the distress caused. We acknowledge there were failings in this case and the standards of care provided to Mrs Walton fell below what we would both expect and want for our patients.

“We have provided Mrs Walton’s family with a detailed response to each of their concerns about their mother’s care and treatment. We have also met with them to discuss their concerns and are continuing to work with them to ensure all their issues are resolved. We are committed to answering fully any further concerns they may have and we are determined to make sure that lessons are learned from this case.”

She said improvements had since been made across all elderly care wards, including a daily safety briefing, staffing levels review, new walk-rounds by ward sisters during visiting times, unannounced out-of-hours inspections and audits of do not resuscitate orders.

She added: “We know these measures have come too late for Mrs Walton, but we hope they reassure people providing high quality patient care is something we continually strive for.”