Archive for August 21st, 2010

As a hospital cleaner, Margaret Cummins dedicated years of her life to the Health Service.

She would keep the buildings spick and span – and go out of her way to help the sick and reassure those in distress.

But if she expected a little respect in return when she became a cancer patient, she was very wrong.

Instead, the 74-year-old’s family were told that she could not have a vital scan because that particular unit was closed at weekends.

The locum doctor said: ‘We’ll do it on Monday – if she’s still here.’

That crass remark was among 36 criticisms levelled at Northampton General Hospital, where Mrs Cummins spent 24 days.

The grandmother died in a hospice just two months after being diagnosed with a lung cancer that had been deemed treatable.

And Mrs Cummins’s family claim that her appalling treatment in hospital contributed to her death.

Her daughter Julie Fordham said: ‘Mum dedicated much of her life to working for the NHS. She wasn’t high-profile, simply back-room, going about a menial but important job with spirit and a sense of pride.

She loved the patients.

‘She always believed the NHS was marvellous, but in this case its standards fell sadly short. We feel she was left to die.’ The family’s claims prompted the chief executive to apologise for 11 failures in her care.

Those included her walking frame being moved out of reach so she fell out of bed, being unable to ring a bedside alarm for help because it was out of reach and being left on the floor for 15 minutes.

Julie Fordham, and Chris Cummins, the daughter and husband of Margaret, received multiple apologies from Northampton General Hospital bosses
Her medical notes were also removed from her bed, a Do Not Resuscitate order was posted before it had been discussed with her family, and she was kept waiting for 12 hours for an ambulance dressed only in a nightie and no underwear when she was transferred between hospitals.

Her family also claim she was dropped from a hoist into a bath which caused her lung to collapse. The hospital denies this.

NHS bosses met the family privately this month to apologise, insisting they had put in place procedures to ensure the blunders were never repeated.

Mrs Cummins’s ordeal began in October when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. By November she had deteriorated so much she had to spend her 50th wedding anniversary in hospital.

On December 5 her family were called to her bedside.

The pair celebrated their 50th Golden wedding anniversary in Northampton General Hospital where Margaret spent 24 days

Mrs Fordham, 43, a mother of two, said: ‘We were told that she was going to die. Her breathing had deteriorated rapidly and we said she needed a lung scan or Xray to find out what was wrong.

‘But a locum doctor took us off into a side room at about 7pm and said she didn’t need a scan because they knew it was the disease, they knew what was wrong.

He said, “They don’t do it at weekends as the unit’s closed so we’ll scan her on Monday – if she’s still here.”
‘She had a scan on the Monday which showed her lung had collapsed.

His reply was deeply offensive and insensitive. He might not have meant to hurt our feelings but he certainly did. It was crass,’ added Mrs Fordham, from Bletchley, Northamptonshire.

Paul Forden, chief executive of Northampton General Hospital Trust, acknowledged 11 direct mistakes relating to Mrs Cummins’ care.

Mrs Cummins, who was married to Chris, 76, had worked at Milton Keynes Hospital and St Stephen’s Hospital in West London.

She died on December 29.

Paul Forden, chief executive of Northampton General Hospital Trust, acknowledged 11 direct mistakes relating to Mrs Cummins’ care.

Of the remaining complaints, he apologised to the family for their concern over perceived failures.

His most striking admission relates to Mrs Cummins being left on the floor for 15 minutes, unable to reach the call alarm.

‘It was unacceptable that a call bell should be left out of a patient’s reach.

It was accepted that best practice was not followed by the nurses with regards to the appropriate access to her call bell and for this I am sincerely sorry.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1304905/Well-cancer-scan-Monday–shes-alive-Agony-family-dying-grandmother-devoted-life-NHS.html#ixzz0xDcLazAF

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