Dead grandmother: Romford hospital guilty of maladministration over family’s complaints

DOCTORS at Queen’s Hospital failed to tell a woman and her family that her condition would not be treated, as she was left to die of an aneurysm.

And now the hospital has been found guilty of maladministration by a health ombudsman on how it dealt with the family’s complaints.

Rita Hayward, of Nazing Walk, Rainham, had had an aortic aneurysm – a dangerous bulge in the artery which could burst at any time – since 2000.

The 67-year-old grandmother-of-three was admitted to the hospital, Rom Valley Way, Romford, on July 7, 2007 with chest, abdominal and back pain.

Staff immediately suspected her aneurysm had burst but a subsequent scan showed that while the aneurysm had grown, there was no sign of leakage.

Surgeons were not prepared to operate as she was too unwell from various other serious health problems.

But neither Rita nor her family – daughters, twins Amanda Hayward and Samantha Goosetree, 38, Lisa Nott, 39, and Michelle Drake, 42 – were told of this decision. Rita died alone from a ruptured aneurysm two days after being admitted to hospital.

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A medical adviser working on behalf of investigators The Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman, said: “Once the decision was made not to intervene or offer operative treatment, Mrs Hayward and her family should have been aware of, and understood, the implications of the terminal nature of the condition.”

Amanda said the family had been “devastated” by the way her mother died.

“Nothing could have been done for my mother – we know,” she said. “But I feel at least we all should have been informed of that decision. If we had known about her condition, none of us would have left her side. The hospital robbed us of our chance to say goodbye to her and her chance to say goodbye to us.”

A litany of other complaints were levied at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRT) – which manages Queen’s.

They include the fact no doctor was on hand to explain the death to the family for about four hours, and that the hospital’s bereavement office left it to the sisters to arrange a post-mortem – something the trust acknowledged as “appalling.”

There was also a seven-hour gap in Rita’s medical notes, again described by a trust investigation as “appalling”.

The ombudsman report, presented to the family late last year, acknowledged Rita could not have been saved.

Since the complaints, the trust has improved how it treats and communicates with vascular patients.

It was told by the ombudsman to apologise for its failings; provide �700 compensation to the family; and formulate an action plan to avoid future maladministration – which it provided last month – and ensure lessons were learnt on complaints handling.

Director of Nursing Deborah Wheeler said: “We’ve written to Miss Hayward to apologise for the failings in responding to her concerns. We’ve also sent her details of all actions that have been take to address the points made in her original complaint.” She has started a detailed review of complaints management.