Hospital showed family lack of compassion while relative was dying

Norfolk nurse details distressing treatment leading up to her father-in-law's death

Norfolk nurse details distressing treatment leading up to her father-in-law's death - Credit: QEH

A Norfolk nurse has been promised "changes will be made" after speaking about the lack of compassion her family received while her father-in-law was dying in hospital.

Sue*, a nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn spoke before the hospital board on Tuesday.  

While Paul's* care had been good, Sue told the board there had been a lack of compassion and poor communication with the family leading up to his death.

Sue said she was often treated like a colleague rather than a relative and was repeatedly left to explain things to the family.

Describing one meeting with a doctor, Sue said she had to set up a Zoom call so she could involve the family, with the doctor acting "hostile".

A hospital ward. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

"The family were distressed - the way it was painted was like his bowel would burst and he would die instantly." - Credit: PA


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"The family were distressed - the way it was painted was like his bowel would burst and he would die instantly," she said.

"I felt it was left to me to explain how perforation would occur and how he would slowly deteriorate all on this call.

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"My mother-in-law was really distressed, thinking they were going to send him home and leave him to die." 

The doctor referred to Sue as the nurse, despite her husband stressing that they were married.

Sue was then repeatedly contacted about discharging Paul back home, despite her saying the family needed support.

Nurse vacancy rates at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King’s Lynn are at an all time low. Picture:

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn - Credit: Ian Burt

Sue said the only person who seemed to understand the need for care was the discharge matron.

"I felt everyone else just thought I wanted to leave him in hospital and didn't want him home. I wanted him looked after properly.

"There were no conversations with the family about whether they could cope." 

While working on her ward she was called to him, on the way she met a colleague who told her in the corridor he had died. 

After bringing the family to the hospital, she said the staff failed to acknowledge the family and they had left Paul looking "a mess".

Dr Frankie Swords, Medical Director at the QEH, offered her condolences to the family and gave "unreserved apologies for our shortcomings".

"We have learnt from this case and will be making a series of changes to ensure all of our patients and their families receive the high-quality end of life care they deserve," she said.

"This includes further staff training and remembering that our staff are often relatives also and understanding how this feels.”

*Names have been changed

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