Alzheimer’s sufferer Betty Mills, 80, left with bottle of chlorine in Queen’s Hospital, Romford

An investigation is under way into how a Hornchurch pensioner suffering from Alzheimer’s was left in her hospital bed with a bottle of cleaning fluid that looked like water.

Betty Mills, 80, of Wingletye Lane, had been admitted to Queen’s Hospital, Rom Valley Way, last week after she was found to be suffering from a bladder infection.

On Sunday, visiting members of Betty’s family were told that she had drunk from a bottle of chlorine solution that had been left on her bed by cleaning staff.

The bottle of ActiChlor, a product used to stop the spread of the winter vomiting bug, was still in Betty’s room when the family members arrived at the hospital.

Her daughter Jan Jordan, said: “We just couldn’t believe it.

“The staff there have let a vulnerable woman like this drink a bottle of cleaning fluid. It’s disgraceful.

“We thought that she’d just be home in a couple of days, but who knows what’s going to happen to her now.”

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Jan said that Betty had a bowel problem before the incident, but this has been noticeably worse since Sunday and she had also been complaining of a sore mouth.

On Wednesday, Betty also suffered a stroke, and was in a critical condition when the Recorder went to press, although this is not believed to be connected to the incident.

‘Can’t believe this’

Health secretary Andrew Lansley was at the hospital on Monday when Jan, 60, went to check on her mother’s condition.

The former nurse said: “I just can’t believe anyone could do this.

“I would have told the health secretary a thing or two about what’s happened there.”

Jan said she has been told that a member of staff has been suspended over the incident, but hospital cleaning contractors Sodexo did not confirm or deny the claim.

A Sodexo spokesman said: “We can confirm that an incident took place and we are currently working with the trust to carry out a full investigation.”

Averil Dongworth, chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust, said Betty had suffered no lasting effects from the incident due to the quick treatment administered by staff, who gave her a milk to drink and monitored her closely.

She added: “I would like to apologise to Mrs Mills and her family for what must have been an extremely distressing experience.

“We are carrying out a full investigation into what happened.”