A woman who was forced to give her elderly mother LOLLIPOPS to keep her hydrated as she lay dying in hospital yesterday (Tue) received an apology from the NHS.
Tragic Sandra Aston, 79, was left in squalor and “treated like an animal” in the week before she died in April last year.
Shockingly, medics initially misdiagnosed her with pneumonia when she was admitted to Redditch Alexandra Hospital before X-rays revealed she had inoperable lung cancer.
Her devastated family have received a formal apology from the hospital after they complained about the appalling conditions and care their mother received.
Mrs Aston’s daughter Tracy Holmes, 51, who lived close to her mother in Evesham, Worcs., said medical staff deprived her mother of “basic human dignity” in her final days.
She said: “My mother was left dehydrated, with no monitoring of her fluid or food intake.
“We constantly found her freezing cold, with cracked bleeding lips and in considerable distress due to her discomfort and desperate thirst.
“We even took to bringing her ice lollies because the hospital was unable to provide oral sponges.
“We fear that if we had not been there then mum would have received nothing at all.
“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.
“In fact her treatment was no better than that given to a helpless animal with no regard whatsoever being given to her comfort and in fact little regard for her basic human rights.
“If we had known she had cancer she could have gone into a hospice and died with dignity instead of ending up so uncomfortable in a horrible room.
“She could have had a peaceful release, she could have said goodbye to her grandchildren.”
Mrs Aston was admitted to hospital on April 19 last year with pneumonia.
It was only after a physiotherapist spotted Mrs Aston’s health deteriorate and reported it to a senior doctor that the family were told how serious her condition was.
After her mother’s death, Mrs Holmes submitted a complaint to bosses at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
Mrs Aston’s outraged GP David Farmer, of Merstow Green Medical Practice, Evesham, also wrote to the trust to complain about her treatment.
He said that an earlier diagnosis of cancer would not have saved her life but if it had been picked up “appropriate end-of-life care could have been put in place”.
Mrs Holmes added: “The saddest thing was that mum loved that hospital and had always chosen to go there.
“That is the saddest part of it. The place she put her faith and trust in let her down in the end.”
Chief nursing officer Helen Blanchard has written to Mrs Holmes offering a “heartfelt and sincere” apology.
Mrs Blanchard said: “We would like to repeat our offer of a sincere apology to Mrs Holmes.
“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 were very grateful when Mrs Holmes attended a board meeting to allow senior staff to listen to her story and we have taken action to improve care.
“I have written to Mrs Holmes recently to try and maintain communications, and would be happy to meet with the family again to address their needs.”