Hospital says sorry for the undignified death of woman in squalor

28 August 2013 Last updated at 17:59 Share this pageEmailPrint

Redditch hospital where woman ‘died in squalor’ says sorry

An elderly woman was “left to die in squalor without basic human dignity” at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, according to her daughter.

Tracey Holmes, from Evesham, Worcestershire, said her 79-year-old mother Sandra Aston was left “cold and desperate, with bleeding cracked lips”.

Doctors also failed to spot she had cancer, so treated her for pneumonia.

The hospital apologised saying aspects of her care were “unsatisfactory”, and added it was “deeply sorry”.

Mrs Holmes said the apology was “pathetic”.

“If we had known Mum had cancer she could have gone to a hospice and died peacefully.

“But the first we heard of it was when a junior doctor mentioned it in passing.

“The word ‘cancer’ had never been mentioned.”

Mrs Aston died less than a week after being admitted in April 2012.

Mrs Holmes said: “Her room was a tip and she was extremely distressed and so desperately thirsty.

“It got to the point where we were bringing in ice lollies so she could suck them.

“She was having steam treatment through a mask and the bottle of water supplying it was empty.

“It was only when a physio came in and saw the state of her and called a doctor that she was looked after.”

‘Mum loved that hospital’
Mrs Aston’s husband Robert said he was horrified at the way his wife was treated.

Mrs Holmes, 51, said after her mother’s death she wrote a formal letter of complaint, which was ignored.

“I telephoned the head nurse about it and she told me she would call me back, but she didn’t,” she said.

“I called again and she left a message on my answer phone saying she didn’t know who I was or what I was talking about.

“The saddest thing was that Mum loved that hospital and had always chosen to go there.

Robert Aston said he was appalled at his wife’s treatment
“The place she put her faith and trust in let her down in the end.”

Mrs Holmes said more than 100 people have since contacted her with similar experiences.

“None of them would take it on, so I have to do it. I don’t want to, but I have to,” she said.

In December 2012, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “disgusted and appalled” at accounts of patient neglect at the Alexandra Hospital.

In a letter to the family from Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust said: “We would like to repeat our offer of a sincere apology.

“We accept that aspects of the care that her mother received were unsatisfactory, and we are deeply sorry for her family’s experience.

“We have been in regular contact with Mrs Holmes over the last year to talk about how we have learned from her experience.

“We would be happy to meet with the family again to address their needs.”

But Mrs Holmes said: “The apology is pathetic. I don’t know what the next steps are, but I know I won’t stop complaining until I am sure other people aren’t treated the same way as my mum.

“It’s simple. Enough is enough.”

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