Grieving family say Norfolk and Norwich Hospital staff failed to tell them their sick brother was in a ward for eight days
14:19 29 September 2012
A family spoke of their anguish at being unable to say goodbye to their brother after medical staff failed to tell them he was in hospital.
Tony Lee from King’s Lynn was phoned on Saturday afternoon by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, who said his brother had fallen over and was in hospital - eight days after he was first admitted.
He rushed from his Sidney Street home to Norwich with his wife Shelly and son Benjamin to see his brother Terry Raper.
When he arrived at the Hethel ward he discovered his brother, a retired bricklayer, had been in hospital for more than a week following a fall at his flat in Markham Tower in Norwich - despite requests from Mr Raper, recorded on medical notes, that his next of kin should be informed.
And in the early hours of Sunday morning, before the 66-year-old’s sisters and the rest of his family could visit him, he died.
His family wrote to North West Norfolk MP, Henry Bellingham who called on the hospital to change their procedures and notify families sooner.
Mr Bellingham said: “It is a very worrying case. There has been a really serious mistake. This is not about money and resources - it is about common sense and leadership. It just beggars belief that this was not dealt with more effectively. Somebody has to accept responsibility for this.”
Mr Raper’s sister Sue Wright was leaving her house in Hinckley, Leicestershire to visit her brother, when she heard the news.
She said: “If I had been told he was in hospital and that ill, I would have gone up the next day.
“I don’t want anyone else to have this happen to them. If their loved ones are in hospital, they should know.
“I would have liked to have talked to him and say, we are there for him.
“None of us could. It was like we had left him.”
The last time she saw her brother, who she spoke to on the phone every week, was at Mr Lee’s wedding in King’s Lynn in August.
The 56-year-old has now put in a complaint to the hospital.
A spokesman for the hospital said: “We are sorry to hear about the concerns raised by the family of the late Terry Raper and can confirm that we received an email complaint from them and will be investigating in detail the issues raised.”
Her sister Jane, who lives in Great Yarmouth, was also unable to see her brother in time.
Mr Lee, 48, who works at RAF Marham, said he wanted to make sure no other families had to go through what they had experienced in the last week.
The father-of-three said: “The staff showed me the medical note that said he had asked for me, my sister Sue and our cousin to be informed he was there.
“I was gobsmacked when they said he had been in all that time without any of the family knowing.
“To say this has made the situation worse is an understatement.
“We were angry and shocked. He must have thought that the family did not care because no one had been to see him.”
Mr Raper was first taken to the emergency assessment unit on September 14, and was moved on September 17 to Langley ward, before Hethel ward on September 20.
Mr Lee said staff at Hethel ward were fantastic, but his grief was made worse by the shock of not being told sooner.