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Alone and thirsty... my mother's shameful end
3:20pm Thursday 29th August 2013 in News
AN elderly woman spent her final hours alone and without her basic human dignity because of an “appalling”
lack of hospital care, her devastated family have claimed.
Relatives of 79-year-old Sandra Aston, who died of lung cancer last year after initially being diagnosed with pneumonia, say she spent her final days in huge discomfort and was denied the chance to say goodbye to her loved ones by a lack of basic care and communication.
Mrs Aston, of Coldicott Gardens, Evesham, was admitted to Redditch Alexandra Hospital on April 19, 2012, with pneumonia. Further tests showed lung cancer, which it is now accepted could have been spotted from earlier X-rays. Mrs Aston died at the hospital less than a week later, with her devastated family barely having had time to digest the news she was so unwell.
Her daughter Tracey Holmes, aged 51, is upset they were not given the chance to make arrangements for Mrs Aston to die with “basic human dignity” but also at the “disgusting” care she received during her final days. She said her mother was left dehydrated, with no monitoring of her fluid or food intake, and that they constantly found her freezing cold, with cracked bleeding lips and in considerable distress due to her discomfort and “desperate” thirst.
They even took to bringing her ice lollies because the hospital was unable to provide oral sponges and Mrs Holmes said: “We fear that if we had not been there then mum would have received nothing at all.”
It was only after a physiotherapist spotted Mrs Aston’s condition and reported it to a senior doctor that the family were told how serious her situation was and involved in discussions about how best to care for her.
Mrs Holmes, of Queens Road, Evesham, submitted a complaint to bosses at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
Mrs Aston’s GP David Farmer, from Merstow Green Medical Practice, also wrote to the trust.
He said that, while the outcome would have been no different, had Mrs Aston’s cancer been picked up from an earlier X-ray then appropriate end-of-life care could have been put in place.
Mrs Holmes said: “The care that my mum received was absolutely appalling. If my mum was to die then she deserved to do so peacefully and with dignity.
Chief nursing officer Helen Blanchard has written to Mrs Holmes offering a “heartfelt and sincere” apology.
Mrs Blanchard said: “We accept that aspects of the care that her mother received were unsatisfactory, and we are deeply sorry.”
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