The family of a 94-year-old veteran who was moved between hospitals 13 times in the last 10 weeks of his life have slammed his treatment.
Since Reg Thompson's death in March, his family have vowed to do what they can to ensure others don’t have a similar experience.
This comes after the Daily Mirror's front page yesterday showed a four-year-old boy forced to sleep on a hospital floor while awaiting treatment for suspected pneumonia – a harrowing image the Prime Minister refused to look at.
Today, the Mirror's front page pictured nine-month-old baby Lily who devastatingly had to wait on a hospital chair for hours.
Mr Thompson's niece Jill Insley didn’t hold back as she addressed health chiefs at a recent board meeting over the treatment of her uncle.
She told Leicestershire Live: “For someone who served his country to enable you all to live the life you are, to be treated in the way he was, I think it’s disgraceful.”
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Repeated mentions of Mr Thompson being “frail” were also a cause of frustration to Jill.
“It’s quite annoying actually to hear people going on about him being frail, he wasn’t frail, he became frail,” she said.
“He became frail when he as moved from bed to bed, hospital to hospital.
“There was never a time that we thought he wouldn’t come back out of hospital but he didn’t and we still can’t understand that now.
“We sat talking about it the other day and we still think that if he hadn’t been taken to hospital in the first place, and he didn’t want to be taken there, then he would still be alive today.”
Mr Thompson lived in Oadby for 59 years and served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
Jill was invited to talk to the trust’s management team about her uncle and the heartbreaking run up to his death that saw him moved from one hospital to another 13 times in his final 10 weeks.
But alarmingly, as Jill addressed Leicester's Hospitals' trust board on Thursday, health bosses admitted that what happened to Reg wasn’t a one-off situation.
Andrew Furlong, medical director, said: “There is still a possibility given the number of patients that come through that there will still be times that we don’t get this right.
“What we need to be doing is getting this right more of the time than we are at the moment.
“There is a lot happening but it is not happening yet, we are not always getting it right for people like Reg.”
The trust initially responded to the family’s complaint in writing before meeting with them earlier this year.
As a result of their complaint an investigation was carried out.
A report prepared for the board stated that the decisions made on each admission were “clinically sound” but goes on to say “there was a failure to step back and see the whole period as one episode of care rather than separate admissions”.
The trust also admitted that “opportunities were missed” to discuss end of life options and that “nobody from a clinical perspective took a step back to stop and consider Reginald’s overall journey and as a result, his transfers backwards and forwards considered”.
Jill explained that throughout his stay in hospital, her uncle gradually got more poorly.
“I arrived to visit one day and he looked just like my mum did right before she died.
“Before he went into hospital he was fit and well, he got worse when he went into hospital and that’s not what’s supposed to happen.”
Changes being discussed as a result of what happened to Reg include a move to digital medical records and an emphasis on working with other trust’s to ensure information like admission and discharge letters are shared between trusts.
But Jill said that while the changes discussed might improve the systematic approach, there’s a more basic issue that needs addressing first.
“Because he was old no one listened to him,” she told the board.
She said she would go as far to say that she believed that nurses where he was treated were uncaring.
She claimed: "They just followed the process and got the job done.
“The lack of care needs looking at, it’s the most basic part of that job and if they don’t have that they shouldn’t be doing it.”
Jill said she and her family remain upset at what they saw as a lack of compassion showed to Reg throughout his multiple stays and a lack of communication due in part to the fact that Reg’s next of kin was still listed as his brother who suffers dementia and lives in Wales, despite the family requesting to change it.
Jill said: “On one occasion my sister was asked if he was a man or a woman when she called the ward to see how he was.
“Staff had literally no idea who they were talking about.
“It is basic care and that costs nothing."
She claimed: “The personal touch just didn’t exist, no one cared about him, they cared for him in that they treated him, but they didn’t care about him.”
Jill suggested that the whiteboard behind patient’s beds be altered to include information about them.
“Why not, when they arrive ask them about their hobbies and interests, then write something on the board like Reg, like trains, or their name and has so many grandchildren, just something so that there’s something people can speak to them about.
“Everything was about getting people in then getting them out.
“There was one day when my brother and sister turned up and he was dressed ready to move, both my brother and sister said he wasn’t well enough to move but no one listened to them.
“In fact they said if you move him now he’ll be back here within 48 hours and just over that he was.
“They’d not been told he was moving, if they’d arrived much later they’d have had no idea where he was. They might have rang his brother and told him but we’d never know that and neither would he.”
John Adler, chief executive of Leicesters’ Hospitals apologised to Jill for the outcome of Reg’s case.
He added: “I’m encouraged by some of the things I’ve heard today that changes will be made to the system that saw Reg shunted around.”
He explained that the possibility of patients remaining at home or in the community will be explored before a hospital admission and said that “good progress is being made”.
He added: “I am though concerned that this isn’t the first time that someone has said this about care.
“We are involved in training doctors and nurses and that’s something we can pass on.
“It just feels to me that that’s the one area that we need to do more about. I just think that the softer side of things is something we need to look at.”
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