Leeds widow's questions over hospital death

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A widow whose late husband endured a series of failings at a Leeds hospital is considering legal action, the YEP can reveal.

Retired engineer Neville Bairstow was treated at Ward 9 of the Gledhow Wing at St James's Hospital before he died from liver cancer in July 2009, aged 66.

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His widow Christine, 64, had complained about a series of failings in Mr Bairstow's care, including failure to deliver medication, inaccurate note-keeping and communication breakdowns.

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The hospital has admitted to "sub-standard" care and changed Ward 9's admissions policy after it emerged that Mr Bairstow did not see a doctor for three days after he was admitted.

But Mrs Bairstow is angry with the hospital after they failed to trace a doctor who she believes was neglectful in his care of Neville in the days before he died.

The unnamed doctor is alleged to have sent Neville away for a scan despite already knowing what was wrong with him; and the grandfather was so weak he had a cardiac arrest the same day.

Mrs Bairstow, of Burley, Leeds, said: "He was rude and he didn't seem to care about Neville at all. I find it shocking that doctors can treat patients without anyone knowing who they actually are.

"There should be lists kept of exactly who is working, where and when. I see his face every day and every night, so the hospital should be able to find him.

"My husband was treated like a guinea pig. They already knew what was wrong with him but he was sent down for a scan when he was clearly too ill to move.

"Neville wasn't going to get better because the cancer was too serious. But I truly believe that the way he was cared for in the Gledhow Wing meant he died a lot sooner than he should have.

"You put your faith in doctors and nurses and think they will do the best for you. But I can't get this out of my head."

In a meeting with the hospital, Mrs Bairstow said staff admitted they had known what was wrong with her husband for several days – but failed to tell either the patient or his family that he was dying.

Mrs Bairstow claims this led to her being "robbed of precious time" with her husband and said she would have been by his side "24 hours a day" had she known the extent of his illness.

Mrs Bairstow wants the doctor who treated her husband identified and is considering legal action against the Gledhow Wing and plans to report the case to the Patients Association and to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

A Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust spokesman said: "We have already sincerely apologised to Mrs Bairstow and her familyin a detailed response to their concerns, includingsetting out significant changes we have madeto the respiratory admissions system on the ward."

He said a face-to-face meeting with the family took place at the end of August and added: "Wefully acknowledge thishas been a very distressing time for the Bairstow family."

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