Falklands veteran, 70, bled to death at hospital while staff told daughter he was ‘having a cup of tea’
A daughter told her dad was “just having a cup of tea” as he slowly bled to death on an emergency ward has hit out at the appalling care he received.
Falklands veteran Tom Tubb, 70, was admitted to Peterborough City Hospital, Cambs., last December after he started having chest pains.
The same afternoon his worried daughter Victoria Woodward, 46, called the emergency department to check on him.
She was told Mr Tubb, who served in the Royal Navy, was “fine” but he suffered a heart attack just hours later and in fact had internal bleeding.
Ms Woodward was only informed of her father’s poor treatment five months after his death in a letter from the hospital.
She said: “I was told at the time he was waiting to be seen, and I was told he was just having a cup of tea and a biscuit.”
Eventually she discovered that her father had been recognised as high-risk within 10 minutes of arriving at the emergency department.
According to the hospital’s own guidelines he should have been seen by a senior doctor and monitored every half-hour – but instead he was left to bleed to death.
She was told he was given only two bags of blood over the eight hours he lay dying in the emergency care ward.
He was also unable to go to the cardiac ward after his heart attack because it was full.
Now after two investigations – prompted by a whistle-blower in the emergency department – the hospital has apologised for the failures in her father’s care.
Ms Woodward, a health and safety consultant, said: “I am still of the opinion that the delay in appropriate action was either entirely or substantially responsible for my father’s death.
“His heart had stopped because there wasn’t enough blood left in his body.
“My family believe the lack of primary intervention and in particular the lack of blood, contributed to his death.
“I made a decision to put on the DNR (do not resuscitate). In the state he was in, I couldn’t really make any other decisions.”
The letter sent to Ms Woodward about her father’s death didn’t even mention him by name – forcing her to call in to find out why she was receiving it.
This first report into his death was deemed so badly written, lacking in detail and error-prone that a second had to be ordered.
Ms Woodward went in to meet Dr Callum Gardner, the trust’s medical director and heard details of what had happened to her father.
She said: “I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sick.”
In an email to Dr Gardner she wrote: “I cannot begin to express my heartbreak, distress, anger, distrust and revulsion.
“I am appalled that any fellow human being, let alone my own father, can appear to have been overlooked, ignored or downright mistreated.”
The hospital admitted the incident was a “serious event” but said the report was “not intended to apportion blame”, and instead it would use it as “an opportunity for learning”.
It found that Mr Tubbs didn’t receive much-needed blood transfusions or other fluids and staff failures resulted in “delays” to his treatment.
No members of staff have been disciplined over the incident and no inquest was ever held, even though Ms Woodward felt one was needed.
Mrs Woodward said Dr Gardner has been helpful since the first report was released, but added: ‘Frankly, I don’t think comfort’s going to be found.’
Mr Tubb joined the Royal Navy as a Radio Operator in 1961. His service ended 25 years later and included a spell as lieutenant commander on HMS Alacrity in the Falklands War.
She was one of the first ships to arrive at the Falklands and withstood 10 attacks and emerging unscathed earning the nickname ‘HMS Miracle’.
Mrs Woodward said the stoicism typical of his generation, and many others who serve in the forces, meant he didn’t want to cause a fuss or draw attention to himself.
She said: “He was a very proud and generous man.
“He threw himself into things whole-heartedly and would not sit on the sidelines.
“I’m fighting this because if Dad had survived he would have fought. I’m doing this because he can’t.
“Nine times out of 10 the NHS is brilliant, but when it goes wrong it really goes horribly wrong.”
She added that there should be a “silver advocate” who would monitor elderly patients to make sure they were getting the care they needed and weren’t suffering in silence.
Dr Callum Gardner said the hospital had “reinforced processes” in place to make sure relatives know if the death of a relative is being investigated.
He apologised that a second report had to be ordered and said Ms Woodward had been offered “continual support” from the trust.
He added: “The Trust already has a number of dementia champions, chaplains and members of the Friends charity and volunteers, who help care for and represent elderly patients.
“Providing an additional layer of support for our more vulnerable patients is extremely important and is something the Trust is very supportive of.
“As regards to the idea of ‘Silver Advocates’, this is something we intend to look at to see if it would further enhance this support.”