Legal involvement following death of Sidcup pensioner after she was sent home from hospital

PUBLISHED: 15:08 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:10 23 April 2018

Shirley Sledmere was sent home from hospital and died of a perforated gallbladder three days later. Picture: Irwin Mitchell

Shirley Sledmere was sent home from hospital and died of a perforated gallbladder three days later. Picture: Irwin Mitchell


Law firm Irwin Mitchell has recently submitted legal documents to Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, seeking an explanation into the death of a pensioner from Sidcup who was sent home from hospital and died three days later.

Shirley Sledmere, 79, had been complaining of severe abdominal pain and died of a perforated gallbladder after she was sent home from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich.

Doctors examined Mrs Sledmere after she arrived by ambulance on November 3, 2016, but were unable to carry out an ultrasound to help diagnose her condition.

Still in pain the next day, her husband Alan booked her in for a private ultra sound for Monday, November 7.

However, her pain was so unbearable he again called for an ambulance on November 6, but by the time paramedics arrived Mrs Sledmere had died.

Following her death Mr Sledmere wrote to Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire, who wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt with his concerns.

Replying to Alan, Mr Hunt said although the availability of scanning machines was a decision for individual NHS Trusts, “the general expectation” was that patients attending busy 24-hour A&E departments “should have immediate access to haematology, clinical biochemistry, microbiology, blood transfusion, X-ray and CT scanning services.”

An internal investigation was carried out, and a Concise Investigation Report said that an ultrasound would probably have picked up Mrs Sledmere’s inflamed gallbladder, meaning “there may have been an opportunity to alter the outcome.”

Kimberley Nightingale, a lawyer at the firm, said: “We are now investigating these concerns and call on the NHS Trust to ensure it implements the recommendations made in its report to help prevent other families suffering the pain that Alan has following Shirley’s death.”

Mr Sledmere said: “I cannot believe the pain and suffering Shirley had to go through in the final days of her life.

“I cannot begin to put into words what it was like watching her die in front of me while waiting for the ambulance.

“I felt so powerless that I was unable to help Shirley when she needed it the most.

“Our family have been left devastated by Shirley’s death.”

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