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Damning report slams hospital patient care

PUBLISHED: 18:58 02 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:05 25 August 2010

Margaret Bristo

Margaret Bristo

AS an A&E faces permanent closure a shocking report has highlighted the care received in neighbouring hospitals which are expected to take on the extra burden. An urgent review of the basic standards of NHS care was called for by the Patients Associat

AS an A&E faces permanent closure a shocking report has highlighted the care received in neighbouring hospitals which are expected to take on the extra burden.

An urgent review of the basic standards of NHS care was called for by the Patients' Association after the charity published a dossier of 16 cases.

One case was at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Woolwich, and two were at Princess Royal Hospital, Farnborough, which are both expected to pick up the slack when the A&E at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, shuts its doors.

In Woolwich, nurses would allegedly not even make eye contact with a woman who had just witnessed her mother choke to death, it was revealed.

At the Bromley hospital a pensioner was supposedly left to wet himself whilst nurses ignored his wife's calls for help and carried on surfing the internet, according to the damning report.

Reporter Marina Soteriou spoke to a third family whose details were published last in the Patients not Numbers, People not Statistics report last Thursday.

MULTIPLE Sclerosis sufferer for more than 40 years, Margaret Bristo, 75, from Plumstead was admitted to the A&E at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Woolwich, on January 22 this year.

The mother-of-six was brought by ambulance from her care home in Thamesmead, suffering from severe hypothermia, kidney failure and bronchial pneumonia.

When her daughter Carol Bristo, from Rochester, reached the ward and asked where her mother was, she said a nurse did not speak to her but just pointed to a room.

The 53-year-old said she found her mother slumped over with no cot sides on the bed.

Mrs Bristo said: "They were not going in to see her frequently.

"We felt we could not trust the nurses to care for mum and we spent as much time as we could with her."

The family felt they had to remind staff to replace her drip or prop her up, otherwise it would not be done.

When relatives tried to speak to the staff, they said they kept their heads down, avoiding eye contact.

Whenever they saw their mother, her mouth was painfully dry. She was nil-by-mouth and they could not comfort her with ice cubes as the machine was broken.

As she got worse, the doctor stopped the deep lung aspirations, which removed fluid from her lungs. But a nurse who allegedly later admitted she had not read the patient's notes supposedly carried out a further one.

Mrs Bristo said: "We were told four days before she died that she was not responding to treatment. Palliative care staff came in the room and put her medication in the bin, in front of us and said 'there is no point in this'."

The daughter was alone in the room with her mother, waiting for her to be taken to a hospice, when she watched her die, choking on her own blood.

She said: "Mum did not die of MS. She died through lack of care.

"I will live with that image forever, of her looking at me and choking.

"I was screaming for the staff to come straight over. They should have been there all the time.

"The nursing staff were just chatting and laughing. She was very ill. The nurse was just slumped against a door.

"It was horrendous. Mum was aware of what was happening and she was looking at me and then she died.

"I asked what the blood was but they said they didn't know. When I went to the nurses' station they wouldn't look at me.

"The doctor came in to do her death certificate and he didn't know what the blood was and said the only way to know was by doing a post-mortem. I said she has had enough."

Off her mother, whose cause of death was registered as a hypothyroid coma, she said: "She never complained even when she was suffering, she was always thankful for the care she was getting.

"I would like to know that changes have happened and a follow up was carried out. I would like to know why she was not on thyroid hormones."

Head of nursing at South London Healthcare NHS Trust Jennie Hall said: "We are sorry to hear that the Bristo family had a bad experience.

"We will be investigating this report fully and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter with the family.

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